Thursday, May 31, 2018

Admitting men boosted Midway Univ., and changed its culture; some women weren't happy, but have adjusted

Midway University is pictured in a photograph taken from a drone aircraft and published in The Lane Report.
By Sarah Ladd and Sarah Landers
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Midway University’s decision to become completely coeducational two years ago has settled in, turned around the school’s finances, and brought several improvements to the campus. But it was fully implemented earlier than initially planned, and was met with some skepticism from female students, who now seem to have adjusted.

The private school’s trustees voted in May 2016 to make it co-educational, welcoming male resident undergraduates for the first time since its founding as the Kentucky Female Orphan School in 1847.

The trustees did not expect to open housing to men until January 2017, university spokeswoman Ellen Gregory said. But with the closing of St. Catharine College near Springfield, Midway saw an opportunity to recruit male athletes who required on-campus housing, so it had to change plans quickly and house them in fall 2016.

The sudden change drew backlash from some female students who were interviewed last fall.

Taylor Stephenson, a Midway senior studying psychology, said she hated the decision and its effect on the campus residence halls.

“I resented once they told us that they were living on the first floor and half of another floor,” Stephenson said. “It rocked us all. We all had to change living arrangements and everything.”

Equine science major Victoria Nader enrolled at Midway during the first year it accepted men. She said the university was not prepared for the influx of new students. “If you lived on campus, it was chaos,” Nader said.

The two dormitories, which have rooms designed for triple occupancy but had each been housing one or two students, got more crowded with third occupants when the men arrived. Nader said that came as a surprise to many female students. She said the university hinted that some people might end up in triples, but students didn’t know that they all would until they actually got room assignments.

Ellen Gregory
Gregory said the news should not have been a surprise. The university, she said, sent out “very clear communication” via email, telling students that men would be in dorms in fall 2016 and that some rooms would need to house three students.

Normally, traditional student athletes are required to live on campus.  Gregory said the university waived this requirement and allowed upperclassmen the choice to live off campus in an effort to smooth over the dorm situation.

Katherine Morgan, a senior biology major, said this spring that the dorm situation had a bright side: renovations. The community spaces in the residence halls have been refurnished, and more campus-wide events have encouraged students to mingle.

“There wouldn't have been renovations done to our facilities without their arrival,” Morgan said. “The arrival of the men also did not force anyone out of living arrangements.”

New arrangements, new attitudes

But the arrangements were different. The community bathroom in one residence hall required extra security measures to keep male and female students from co-occupying it.

Stephenson said she didn’t think Midway was ready to go co-ed, and said most male students brought drama. She described the school in its all-female days as being relaxed and friendly. That changed when men arrived, she said.

“Some girls started wearing makeup or started dressing nicer once the boys came to campus, and it just changed the way Midway felt,” Stephenson said.

“You never see casual in classes now,” Kathryn Lawler, a senior business major from Scott County, told Russ Brown of The Lane Report for a major story about the university's turnaround. “Every girl puts on a little bit of mascara or something.”

Morgan told the Midway Messenger that only about half the female students changed habits to appeal to male students.

One student who asked to remain anonymous, due to the controversy, agreed that men on campus “do cause some issues between girls, for obvious reasons.” The student said she was originally angry about the announcement, but she and others have since decided they are happy to have men on campus.

Morgan said the school going co-ed did not greatly affect her, and she was still able to be involved around campus. “Of course, it was a wake-up call when seeing men around campus, because this is not something that I had been used to, but it was definitely easier to adjust to than originally planned,” she said.

Nader said she is also pleased with the change, but does worry about the interpersonal drama that’s been brought to the university. She and Stephenson also expressed concern for how the new men’s athletic teams may affect the female teams’ turf.

“I do not think Midway was ready for co-ed,” Stephenson said. “We only have two dorms on campus and some off-campus housing. And now they are adding in more sports, and we just don’t have the space for that.”

“I personally wish Midway didn’t go co-ed, but I know they did it for the money that we desperately needed,” Stephenson said.

An existential decision

The change made a big difference at a critical time. In 2015, the last year when only women could attend traditional daytime undergraduate programs, total enrollment had sunk to 1,043, and only 261 students were traditional daytime undergraduates. The enrollment in fall 2017 was 1,217, up 17 percent from two years earlier, and traditional undergraduate enrollment was 489, up 87 percent. Almost one-third of traditional undergrads are men.

Gregory said being all-female campus had left Midway in a narrow market. Only 2 percent of high-school women say they want their higher education to be only with women, and the number of women-only colleges in the U.S. has declined from 200 many years ago to fewer than 50, she said.

“So, for us, it really was kind of fighting an uphill battle of, you know, this limited population that wanted that, and so we saw it as an opportunity to really increase our reach,” she said.

While the students interviewed said they realized the reasons for the decision, they still have misgivings about some ramifications. Nader said she recognized the university’s need to survive, but thinks the university wants to push the men’s sports teams in order to draw in more students.

Gregory said the addition of male sports teams benefited the campus quickly, and the campus was able to bring some of the St. Catharine coaches along with the athletes. A school closing is “very sad, but it’s also, you feel really good that you’re able to provide that easy transition for them,” Gregory said.

She said that while the university did rapidly grow men’s sports, it also grew women’s sports. “While that took attention, the university always remained focused on academics and serving all of our students,” she said. “Athletics has allowed us to stabilize our traditional undergraduate enrollment over the last couple of years and with that we have been able to offer more co-curricular programming for all students, expand our Midway Research Symposium for student research, hire new faculty members and continue expanding our graduate programs.”

Nader said the equine program is losing pasture space in order for the men’s baseball team to get a field on campus, which will take away one of the nicer hayfields.

Gregory said the university is on 200 acres, 70 of which are devoted to pastures for the equine program. She said the decision to use the equine pasture for the baseball team came after a conversation in which the equine program was highly involved, and the decision was made with all programs in mind. “With 200 acres and 70 of that in pasture, there is going to be a minimal impact on the pastureland,” she said.

A new experience

Morgan said the addition of male sporting events has helped school spirit. “The attendance of social and sporting events on campus has increased greatly and as a whole the student body [seem] to be enjoying their college experience as a whole more,” she said. 

Gregory said she is especially proud of the student athletes’ overall 3.08 grade-point average, and said that additional enrollment is always good for the university.

Despite the additional students, Gregory said the university did not hire more employees, other than the men’s coaches. She said the change on campus has “all been very positive. . . . For us it was a matter of ‘This is the right course for this institution at this point in our history’ in order to have the enrollments that we need.”

She said that since going co-ed, there has been an increased vibrancy on campus, illustrated by athletic events where students cheer each other on. “They’re all fans of each other, they all support each other,” she said. “It’s amazing to me, the extra life on campus, the student engagement.”

Gregory said the university, which was recently re-accredited for 10 years, has about 110 full-time employees and is raising money for three major improvements: a field house with an auxiliary gym for practices, extra office space for coaches and a training room for the 100 athletes expected this fall; a new baseball field for a team that now uses a field in Versailles; and additional renovations to the residence halls.

Some dorm renovations are being done over the summer, and the plans include updates to all the residence bathrooms, Gregory said: “That will be a little bit of a surprise to the students who get back in the fall.”

Editor's note: Most newspapers might not publish a story that is mainly about an event that happened two years ago, but the Midway Messenger is not a typical newspaper, and Midway University is not a typical topic, as a private institution that has faced challenges in the past decade. The Messenger depends largely on the work of University of Kentucky journalism students, and the initial reporter on this story had a demanding schedule in the fall semester and was unable to complete the reporting before the semester ended. No students were available to complete the story in the spring semester. It was completed by a summer intern for the Messenger. --Al Cross, editor and publisher

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Council shows movement on blighted-property rules

City Council Member Steve Simoff spoke to (from left) Council Members John McDaniel and Bruce Southworth, City
Attorney Phil Moloney, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift, City Clerk-Treasurer Phyllis Hudson, Kentucky League of Cities
Director of Municipal Law and Training Morgain Sprague and Council Member Johnny Wilson at the special meeting.

By Sarah Ladd
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The Midway City Council appears to have resolved, at least in principle, the main obstacle to an ordinance that would let the city crack down on property maintenance. But it took a lively discussion.

The council’s special meeting Wednesday addressed two proposed ordinances: one to update the general nuisance ordinance on “deteriorating properties” and one to establish a Code Enforcement Board to hold hearings and make initial rulings on alleged violations. The ordinances were drafted to maintain the public safety and well-being of Midway as well as to keep in line with changes at the state level, Mayor Grayson Vandergrift said.

Vandegrift, who has vowed to crack down on blighted property, said “the main hangup” has been misgivings about a Code Enforcement Board. The three-person board would be appointed by the council. That has been a problem for Council Member Bruce Southworth.

“It’s just passing the buck. We were elected to take care of these things,” Southworth said. “We [would] have no control over that board at all.”

An old Masonic hall at 116 E. Main St. is one of the targets.
Morgain Sprague, director of municipal law and training at the Kentucky League of Cities, said board members could be removed for cause, including lack of action. City Attorney Phil Moloney said later that the council could exercise control through appointments.

Sprague said a Code Enforcement Board would likely save the city a great deal of money in the long term if it cracks down on blighted property. She said that in the league’s experience, once property owners have their concerns heard by a board, they are less likely to take the city to court because they will see the evidence stacked against them or have their issue resolved.

She said the board would have more respect from district judges than the council, which is more subject to politics, and would provide citizens a panel of listening ears more familiar with the property issues than a judge. “That’s not to say they think ill of the council,” she said. “They like to know that there’s been due process.”

Southworth voiced concern that the board would abuse its power, but Vandegrift said it is the only option for effective enforcement. “We need to get this done,” he said. “People are angry about this.”

Council Member Steve Simoff also expressed concern and asked how the board would be regulated and how the public would know to approach the members.

Moloney said the board would have regular meetings open to the public, which would be informed about them.

City officials say this house at the northwest corner of Higgins
and Turner Streets has been abandoned for almost 60 years.
Simoff and Southworth also voiced concern about the cost of defending enforcement actions in court. Simoff said the city has “two main targets,” a commercial building on Main Street and a house at the corner of Turner and Higgins streets that has been vacant for almost 60 years. “Both of ‘em have enough money to fight us in court,” he said of the owners.

Vandegrift said there are more than two targets, and some of them may conclude that it is cheaper to do the work than challenge an enforcement action in court. “You guys look at a worst-case scenario,” he said. Sprague said there is no way to estimate possible court costs.

The discussion appeared to get Vandegrift’s effort off dead center. After the meeting, Simoff told the Messenger, “A code enforcement board is necessary and I’m very happy we’re studying the proper way to handle one.”

And despite his voiced concerns about a board, Southworth said, “I’m thinking it could work.” He said he wants to read over the ordinance again closely to make sure it will work “in a good way.”. He added, “We do need something with some teeth in it.”

Council Member John McDaniel said the meeting resolved his concerns, but he still wants to study the proposed ordinance.

Council Member Johnny Wilson said he thinks the board is a good idea and pointed out the advantages of having designated individuals who would be familiar with the complaints brought before them. “I don’t know anything about [building inspection] You need people with experience,” he said.

Council Members Sara Hicks and Kaye Nita Gallagher did not attend the late-morning meeting. Vandegrift said Hicks was ill.

Several members attended one of Sprague’s code enforcement trainings in Berea recently, and they have signed up another training at the end of June.

Vandegrift said he will give the council a few weeks to look over the ordinance and come up with questions. He said the council will hold another special meeting in a month to discuss further edits.

Saturday's Historic Homes Tour has houses with ties to Parrish family, which is having a reunion this weekend

Southern Equine Farm, formerly Parrish Hill Farm, has one of six homes associated with the Parrish family on the tour.
By Sarah Ladd, University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Members of the Midway Woman’s Club are preparing for their Historic Homes Tour this weekend, when they will display some of the area’s most attractive and historic houses to visitors and the community.

Most of the seven homes are in the Midway Historic District, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. All have connections to the Parrish family, which is holding a reunion in Midway this weekend.

The tour will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 2. For information, go to Eventbrite.com; the Midway Woman’s Club Facebook page; or email midwaywomansclubky@gmail.com.

Tour tickets are $20 and available online at Eventbrite; at Railroad Drug and Old-Time Soda Fountain, and May & Co. on Main Street in Midway; in Versailles at Marketplace on Main, 116 E. Main St.; and in Lexington at The Rag Peddler, 250 Walton Ave. Only cash or checks are accepted for tickets at store locations.

The Woman’s Club is also offering a Tour with Lunch ticket, which includes the homes tour and a three-course gourmet lunch at the Holly Hill Inn in Midway, another former Parrish family home that is not featured on the tour. Seating is at 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. Tour with Lunch tickets are $50 each and available only on Eventbrite.

The tour is self-directed, and the homes are not handicapped accessible. On Saturday, the tour begins at Northside Elementary School, 500 Northside Drive, where tickets must be redeemed for admission booklets. In the booklets will be information on where to find a Parrish family history.

A news release from the club says all seven homes chosen for this year’s tour are important to the Parrish family, which has been in Midway for seven generations, including several current residents. The patriarch, James Ware Parrish (1815-1857), was a co-founder of the Kentucky Female Orphan School, which is now Midway University. He or his descendants occupied all six houses on the tour, and he was an early supporter of the Second Christian Church in Midway, the oldest African-American Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the nation, which is also on the tour.

Homes on the tour will be:
  • Southern Equine Farm — formerly Parrish Hill Farm, where several thoroughbreds of note were bred, including Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Charismatic
  • Pinkerton-Rouse Place — home to the president of Midway University
  • Porter House — built around 1840
  • Village View Cottage — formerly located at Parrish Hill Farm
  • Parrish Place — now Midway Small Animal Clinic
  • Parrish Homeplace — Dearborn, circa 1810, the home of patriarch James Ware Parrish; owned by Darby Dan Farm
Midway Woman's Club President Genie Graf said, “We club members are looking forward to learning about the histories of these homes, some of which might never be open to the public again. Each is at least a century old, with one having been built more than 200 years ago.”

Graf is co-chair of the tour with Amy Perry, a Parrish family descendent who wrote the histories of homes on the tour and organized the Parrish Family Reunion, which was scheduled purposely to run concurrent with tour. Perry said she and her family are excited about the tour and the reunion.

“The family is an interesting family,” she said, adding that family members from as far away as California are coming in, and she is excited to put faces with the names and stories she has heard her whole life.

Helen Roach Rentch, a Parrish family descendant and a member of the Woman’s Club, said the experience of planning the tour has been “fascinating” because they have learned more about the history of the community. “We’ve learned things about our family’s farms.” She said she is also looking forward to meeting and seeing extended family members at the family reunion.

Rentch said the family originally came from Virginia with a traveling church in 1781. “It was right after the Revolution,” she said. “Before that, there had not been religious freedom in the country.”

She said the research and work that has gone into planning the reunion and tour has made her realize how different that generation had it. “They’d been to jail, they’d lain down in the road to protest [for religious freedom].” When the family arrived, she said they spent a year in a fort to avoid Native American rampages, and finally settled in Woodford County.

Proceeds from the tour will benefit the Woman’s Club, a non-profit group dedicated to helping Midway families and the community. The club was founded in 1922 and, according to its Facebook page, “maintains a community-oriented philanthropic mission that began more than ninety-five years ago.” It sponsors an annual scholarship, and supports the local elementary school, library, university, and other projects that originate in Midway.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

EDA wants Station's residential zone to go industrial; developer wants to keep options open, issues statement

Dennis Anderson (2014 photo)
This story has been updated. See below.

With a big deadline a year and a half away, officials of the Woodford County Economic Development Authority and Midway Station developer Dennis Anderson of Lexington aren't seeing exactly eye to eye.

Anderson has maintained an option on the property by paying its monthly debt service, which EDA Chair John Soper says is down to $6,300 a month from $11,000 a month, thanks to recent sales for industrial and commercial development. The remaining debt on the property, $2.638 million, is owed jointly by the county and the City of Midway.

The county and city developed the property as an industrial park, but after many years of little activity, optioned it to Anderson for residential and commercial development in 2008. The Great Recession hit, thwarting development, and as the recovery accelerated, the property and adjoining tracts became attractive to major employers: first American Howa, an auto-parts company, and then Lakeshore Learning Materials, which built a huge distribution center.

Soper said Friday, after the EDA board failed to get a quorum for its monthly meeting, that it would like to rezone as industrial the 35 or so acres now zoned for housing, because the zoning, and the prospective need for rezoning, is a disincentive for industrial buyers. "In our experience, if it's not zoned, the consultants who advise these businesses move on down the road," Soper said.

"Dennis ... thinks that if he gets a serious user, he can get it zoned, and he probably can, but our experience, and what we've been told by the state, is that a lot of 'em won't even talk to you a second time if it's not already zoned," Soper said, adding later, "He wants to maintain his flexibility, and that's his right." Rezoning by the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning Commission would need Anderson's approval because he has a legally defined interest in the property.

Anderson said in a telephone interview Tuesday, "It's general practice in the industry that you wait until you have a prospect before you go and rezone a property. We've had good success with the Planning Commission … and feel like they would support it if the opportunity arose."

Anderson said he has "worked a dozen different leads" on parcels of up to 5 acres in the current residential zone that could be sold for industry, but hasn't found one "with the ability to write a check . . . and that’s the second least expensive land in Central Kentucky” for industrial development. He said he didn't know why.

"Industrial development isn’t what I do, and when they put Lakeshore in there, I asked them to to look at how it was going to impact the rest of the land," Anderson said, adding that he has been ''laying back to see" if Lakeshore would generate demand for nearby residential development from workers at the plant.

The plant is supposed to have a payroll of 262 in a year and a half to two years. In December 2019, a year and a half from now, Anderson's option on the property will expire, and the bond issue used to buy and develop the property will come due. If Anderson exercises the option, his purchase price would be $2.936 million, about $300,000 more than the outstanding debt on the property.

Hotel prospects discussed

In the interviews, Anderson and Soper also discussed prospects for a hotel in the Green Gables development Anderson owns across Interstate 64 from Midway Station. Anderson said he is hoping that the industrial development will increase demand for a hotel.

Anderson said he has showed the property to three hotel groups, two of whom he has done business with. Speaking of one, he said, "I'm quoting land in Lexington at twice the price, and he still wants Lexington."

Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift has said Anderson wants too much for the land. Soper said Anderson told him that the price is $350,000 per acre, not the originally quoted price of $450,000 an acre. The lot platted for a hotel is 1.9 acres.

Anderson said the owners of the Holiday Inn Express nearing completion in Versailles are among the prospects for Midway, but "They want to make sure Versailles is up and producing before they take another step." 

Soper said that if the Versailles hotel does well, it will improve the prospect for one in Midway, which is hurt by the proximity of hotels on the interstate in Frankfort. He said he recently showed the property to Wyndham Hotels and a company that operates hotels under several brand names, and "Both of them think that it's close."

Anderson issues statement

Following publication of this story, Dennis Anderson issued the following statement:


Anderson Communities continues to work with the City of Midway, Woodford County and the Economic Development Authority. Since 2008, Anderson Communities has held an option on the Midway Station property. We have paid 100% of the debt service on a pre-existing bond issue through the Recession. The combined total of debt service that has been paid by Anderson Communities and land purchases exceeds $1.3 million, along with more than $2 million in land purchases. Our payments have taken that burden off the tax payers of Midway and Woodford County.

We have fully cooperated with the Economic Development Authority in locating new industries in Midway Station. The jury is still out on whether other industrial prospects will want to locate there, or whether the property should be developed as a mixed use residential and commercial area to complement the industry. There can be arguments made for both approaches. If new prospects come forward, we are confident that Anderson Communities and all local agencies involved can quickly respond to such a request.

It is important to understand, however, that public speculation about land pricing makes it more difficult to market property. Land pricing depends on a number of factors including proposed use, location within the development, size of the tract, special needs of the buyer, and a myriad of other issues. We work diligently to find a price point that works for all parties. Public discussion of potential selling prices can quickly kill a deal. That is why state law allows public agencies to discuss real estate deals in closed session.

We have found that our pricing policy has never been a deterrent for serious prospects in Midway Station. To be effective, however, that discussion must be confidential. We deal with each prospect diligently, fairly and honestly.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Memorial Day service set for 10 a.m. Mon. at cemetery

Midway's Memorial Day service will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at the Midway Cemetery, contrary to a line in the Messenger's City Council story last week. We apologize for the error.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said at the council meeting that he would not have a special speaker for the service, but would talk about the Iraq War experiences of an unnamed local veteran who served in difficult circumstances but doesn’t want to speak about it.

“I really think his story is important and powerful,” Vandegrift said, “and he’s one of our own.”

Friday, May 25, 2018

Contractor strings fiber-optic cable for a major section of statewide high-speed internet network through Midway

Traffic on Leestown Road in Woodford, Scott and Fayette counties was occasionally blocked this week as crews from Hutchins Telecom installed one of the first major sections of the Kentucky Wired high-speed internet network that will eventually reach every county seat and some other sites. In bucket, Scott Hume handles a fiber-optic cable as Dawson Claypool works on the ground; both are from Louisville. The cable is being extended from Frankfort to the University of Kentucky.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Council to hold special meeting May 30 to resume discussion of proposed ordinance on blighted property

The Midway City Council will hold a special meeting at 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 30, to discuss a proposed ordinance to crack down on blighted property.

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.

The meeting notice says no action will be taken. The meeting will be held at City Hall. All council meetings are open to the public.

Midway Christian Church gives Northside school first of three benches made from recycled plastic bottle caps

The Midway Christian Church has been collecting plastic bottle caps to be made into benches for Northside Elementary School. The first of three benches was installed today.

From left to right in the photo are church members (and spouses) Adele Dickerson and Dan Roller, Custodial Services Manager James Harlow, City Council Member Bruce Southworth, church member Rick Caudle, minister Heather McColl, Principal Ryan Asher and art teacher Anne Brooks. (Photo by Wilda Willis Caudle)

After the two additional benches, the church plans to do other bench projects for the church and the Midway community.

Northside Elementary plants a tree to honor Ambrose Wilson IV of Midway, 26 years a school board member

Left to right: Nolan Asher, Charlie Twehues, Payten Asher, Ambrose
Wilson IV and Cindy Smithers, Wilson's daughter. (Photo by Sarah Ladd)
By Sarah Ladd
University of Ky. School of Journalism and Media

Northside Elementary School staff and students met on the school’s grounds Wednesday morning to plant a tree honoring long-time Woodford County Board of Education member Ambrose Wilson IV of Midway.

The tree, a small Japanese maple, was chosen for its distinctive color and was dedicated to Wilson for his 26 years of service on the board, part of it as chair. Wilson said the school board surprised him at its April 23 board meeting by announcing the gesture in front of his family, grandchildren and many others. 

Wilson said he felt honored by the gesture and by the continued support he receives from the voters at each election. “The school was always so important to me,” he said. “Now a piece of me will always be here.”

The tree (Photo by Sarah Ladd)
The three students who helped dig the hole for the tree decided to use the original shovel used to break ground for the school in 1991, which Wilson had given to the school. Payten Asher, Nolan Asher and Charlie Twehues said they didn’t realize how significant their decision was at first, but when they realized, they were excited.

“Well, at first they were just going to use old garden tools!” said Nolan, who had the idea to use the shovel.

The school plans to provide a plaque for the tree. The students will care for and water it as a way to give back to Wilson. The children were all smiles and said they were eager to take care of the tree.

Shelby Ison, curriculum and instruction coach at Northside, said she has been with the school since its beginning and has been with Wilson all the way. She said his work for the school has contributed greatly to the school’s vibe and has made Northside competitive with other schools. “We have the best of everything!” she said.

Ison said Wilson frequently visits class activities and is highly involved around the school. “He’s highly visible, but it’s a sincere visibility,” she said.

Wilson got the school's walkway covered. (Photo by Sarah Ladd)
One of Wilson’s accomplishments, Ison said, is the shelter that covers the walkway leading up to the door. “Before this, students stood out in the rain.”

Ison said Wilson has been an influential advocate for students, and has actively worked to provide the best programs possible for students, such as the robotics program and the reading program. “Sometimes, the decisions he makes are not always popular with the adults,” she said, “but it’s all about the students!”

Council committee will meet at 10 a.m. Fri. to discuss ordinance on animal shelter and inhuman treatment

The Finance, Ordinance and Policy Committee of the Midway City Council will meet at 10 a.m. Friday, May 25 in City Hall to discuss a proposed ordinance, "An Addition To Existing Ordinance Pertaining to Animal Shelter and Inhuman Treatment," says a notice from the city.

At the last two council meetings, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift first said the ordinance would be identical to one enacted by the Woodford County Fiscal Court, then asked the council to table the ordinance because the city's current ordinance is more specific in some cases. The council tabled the ordinance, meaning it will take a majority of the council to even consider it again.

The meeting notice says the committee will take no action. All committee and council meetings are open to the public.

Midway University students, faculty and student organizations receive awards of excellence

By Sarah Ladd
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Midway University recently presented awards of excellence to faculty, students and campus organizations.    

"The annual honors event is an important reminder of our purpose and a celebration of our students' academic and social achievements,” Dr. Mary Elizabeth Stivers, vice president for academic affairs, said in a university news release. 

The awards were presented at an April 19 event named for the late Joy Edwards Hembree, a long-time university trustee who advocated for women and children, recognizes persons for superior accomplishments, both in the classroom and beyond, the release said.

Award recipients from the Midway area were:
Georgetown: Katie Morgan, Future Alumni
Versailles: Shannon Jackson, MSN Education Track Award for Professional Excellence
Frankfort: Cait Smith, Outstanding English Student Award; Alexus Thornton, Outstanding Student in Master of Business Administration

Other award recipients included:
Dr. Cynthia Ryder, Outstanding Teacher Award
Courtney Clark (Lexington), Associate Degree Nursing Faculty Award for Academic Excellence
Ashley Lewis (Lawrenceburg), BSN Professional Excellence Award
Sheila Griffeth (Lexington), MSN Administration Track Award for Professional Excellence
Velkys Montemayor Jordan, Health Care Administration Award
Jasmine Valentine (Simpsonville), Outstanding Biology Student Award
Sgt Daniel Truex (Lexington), Outstanding Criminal Justice Student Award
 Michelle Clark (Sidney, Ohio), Outstanding Psychology Student Award
Heather Ping (Somerset), Outstanding Teacher Education Student Award
 Mike Johnson, Outstanding Master of Education Student Award
Jarol Prado, Outstanding Mathematics Student Award
Rachel Carter (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), Outstanding Business Student Award
 Elizabeth Douglas, Outstanding Student in Equine Rehabilitation
Beverly Gartland (Essex, Vt.), Outstanding Student in Equine Management and Equine Science
Christina Neira, Outstanding Sport Management Student Award
 Callum Johnston (Lexington), Excellence in Community Service Award
Rashea Smith (Corbin), Ruth Slack Roach Junior Scholar
Freshman Leadership Award: Cameron Kincer (Neon) and Lynsey Doles (Ripley, Tenn.)
Midway Eagle Leadership Award: Kendra Legters (Bloomfield, N.Y.) and Ellie Lyons (Shelbyville)

The Athletic Team Impact Award went to the women's soccer team and the Student Organization Impact Award went to the Midway Horse Association.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Liles Taylor defeats Magistrate Linda Popp in primary; Greathouse awaits; McDaniel 3rd but plans council race

By Sarah Ladd
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Liles Taylor won the Democratic primary for Midway district magistrate Tuesday with 284 votes to incumbent Linda Popp’s 141 and City Council Member John McDaniel’s 136.

In the Nov. 6 general election Taylor will face Joe Greathouse, his next-door neighbor on Cottage Grove. He said last night that he and Greathouse, who was unopposed for the Republican nomination, haven’t discussed the race. Taylor, 31, is political coordinator of the state AFL-CIO. Greathouse is a farmer.

Liles Taylor
At the polling place at Northside Elementary School, Brandon DeMoss said he supported Taylor because of his stance on important issues. “Linda Popp is OK with me,” he said, “but I like Taylor because he’s a fresh face with new ideas.” DeMoss, a young man, said he did not feel that Taylor’s age made him more appealing. Rather, he said the issues won his vote.

One anonymous voter said she supported Taylor because he had such an active campaign. She said the community spoke highly of him and he was the only candidate to send her literature on his issues. He called for increased transparency of county government through online access to documents, focus on the county budget and look for ways to alleviate traffic in Versailles without putting more on Midway Road (US 62).

Several other voters who wished to remain anonymous said they voted for Taylor because of his character and youth. “It’s good for the county to get young people in office,” one said. Others said it was time for a change and they think Taylor will be the right kind of change. One would not say who won her vote, but said she was disappointed in Popp’s inactive campaign.

Popp’s husband, Ray Popp, died April 5, and she said his illness and death kept her from campaigning. In the last week of the race, her campaign signs appeared all over the district.

Justice Heltzel arrived late in the afternoon to vote and said he proudly supported Taylor. He said he has known Taylor for a long time and described him as a “genuine” person. “He’s interested in the community he lives in,” Heltzel said. “And you want someone who’s passionate. He embodies what I want to see for this position.”

Kayleigh Taylor said she is new to Midway, and Taylor made her feel welcome, so she voted for him. “He knocked on my door and had a conversation with me,” she said. “Being new, that felt good.”

Liles Taylor said he knocked on about 850 doors so far and plans on doing more before November “because there’s nothing like having the opportunity to speak with voters one on one. I’m excited about doing that going forward.”

Taylor said he was proud to be the Democratic nominee. “I’m really proud of the campaign that I’ve run this far,” he said, “and I’m excited about earning folks’ votes in November.” He also complimented the graciousness of the other candidates. He said Popp called him and was “exceptionally gracious” and said he appreciated her service to the county during her term.  “I look forward to working with anyone who will work with me as we move forward,” he said.

McDaniel said after the polls closed that he was not ready to comment on the results, but when he came to vote at around 5 p.m., he was all smiles and said, “Liles ran a race like a politician should.” The day before, in an informal conversation with the Messenger, he had predicted Taylor would win.
McDaniel, who was more critical of Popp during the race, said he plans to file for re-election to the city council. The filing deadline for the six council seats is Aug. 14.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Mayor keeps passage of budget scheduled for June 4; 'leaning against' Southworth's request for 3rd workshop

By Sarah Ladd
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The Midway City Council met Monday to discuss the budget that starts in July, approve the city’s borrowing limit and honor a local Eagle Scout.

The council held the first reading of the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 following two workshops at which the council worked on it. The budget outlines the city’s planned revenue as well as spending for next year.

It reflects significantly lower property tax revenue for the next fiscal year, $82,000, compared to $110,000 in the current year. Vandegrift said in January he wanted to reduce property taxes 25 percent since the city is getting so much more money from occupational taxes as a result of increased employment. Tax rates will be set later this year.

Vandegrift said second reading of the budget ordinance would be held June 4. Later in the meeting, Council Member Bruce Southworth said he thought there was going to be another workshop before action on the budget. Vandegrift said he would call a council meeting for another workshop, perhaps at a special meeting he plans to have about blighted property on May 30, and would not reschedule the second reading.

Southworth said after the meeting that he wanted the council to discuss the $17,000 proposed for various improvements at Walter Bradley Park. City Attorney Phil Moloney said the budget could be changed on second reading as long as the changes were not "substantial."

Mayor changes his mind

Tuesday morning, Vandegrift told the Messenger in an email that he was leaning against calling another budget workshop. He reiterated that he had asked the council May 9 that if anyone wanted another workshop, adding that he “told them if I didn’t hear from anyone within a few days we would move forward with putting the budget into ordinance form.” He said now that the work has been put in to make the budget an ordinance, he does not see the need for another workshop, “especially when the question at hand is not, as one council member put it after the meeting, about money.”

Asked about that via email, Vandegrift wrote, “Bruce told me that his issue 'is not about the money,' which among other things, led me to believe the real issue is with personnel. I stand firmly with the entire Parks Board and the work they are doing, and believe personnel issues are separate discussions from budget ones.”

An anonymous donor bought this willow arch at the Francisco's
Farm Art Fair and donated it to the park. (Photo by Sarah Ladd)
Vandegrift wrote earlier, “I am extremely proud of this budget in its current form, including the Parks portion, and will leave it up to each individual member to decide whether or not to vote for or against the only budget in Kentucky that cuts property taxes 25% and increases investments.”

At the end of the meeting, Council Member Sara Hicks brought to the council’s attention that an anonymous donor purchased a willow archway at Francisco’s Farm Art Fair over the weekend and donated it to the park. It now graces the entryway to the Osage Trail behind the dog park. The asking price of the archway was $1,500, other members said. The arch was created on a steel frame by Justin Roberts of Murray, an apprentice in the Kentucky Arts Council program.

The council approved a resolution for the authorization of short-term borrowing for the 2018-19 fiscal year. It allows the city to borrow up to $99,000 “to pay amounts that have become due in the normal course of business,” though Vandegrift said it is unlikely the city will need to borrow money while awaiting tax receipts. Should the city need to, the interest would be consistent with Woodford County banks’ rates for commercial loans.

Eagle Scout honored

New Eagle Scout Eric Witt of Midway was honored at the council meeting for his service to Midway. Vandegrift announced that May 31 will be Eric Gerard Witt Jr. Day in honor of the scout’s courage and service despite physical pain due to his rheumatoid arthritis. Witt has been a scout since first grade and has mentored younger scouts.

Left to right: Mayor Vandegrift with Kim Witt, Eric Witt Jr. and Eric Sr.
Witt’s service includes a structure he designed as a multi-purpose pavilion behind the Midway Branch of the Woodford County Public Library and Northside Elementary School.

Eagle is the highest rank a Boy Scout can receive. Vandegrift read from his proclamation, which said in part, “Eric Gerard Witt Jr. exemplifies what it means to serve one’s community and the city of Midway is proud to call him on of their own.” Witt is a senior at Lexington Catholic High School.

In other business, The council voted to table an ordinance on inhumane treatment of animals, which would be identical to the county ordinance. “There might be more overlap here than we realize,” Vandegrift said. “Our ordinances are actually more specific than this ordinance.”

Vandegrift said he would not have a special speaker for SaturMonday’s Memorial Day service at the cemetery, but would talk about the Iraq War experiences of an unnamed local veteran who served in difficult circumstances but doesn’t want to speak about it. “I really think his story is important and powerful,” Vandegrift said, “and he’s one of our own.”

Monday, May 21, 2018

Midway University presents annual Spotlight Awards to longtime trustee and Dress for Success of Lexington

Analisa Wagoner accepts Pinkerton award from President John Marsden.
Midway University presented its Spotlight Awards Thursday night, at its annual fund-raising dinner in the Piper Dining Hall on campus.

The Pinkerton Vision Award, named after the founder of the Kentucky Female Orphan School, which evolved into the university, honors those who have had an impact on women's lives or served as a strong role model for women. This year's award went to the Lexington Chapter of Dress for Success, for its work to help women gain economic independence. Analisa Wagoner accepted the award.

"Dress for Success Lexington brings services and career development opportunities to women in the Lexington community," President John Marsden said. "Since its founding in 2013, the organization has served more than 675 women through their Suiting Program and Career Center. . . This organization resonated well with Midway University as an institution that offers a career-focused education, provides support through our career services office, and champions women and leadership."

Julia Hunter accepts Legacy Award from Trustee Donna Moore Campbell.
The Midway University Legacy Award went to Janet Green Hunter of San Diego, Calif., a trustee of the school since 2000. The award honors a person or persons who have impacted the university over many years by giving time, service, support and/or resources.

"Jan has given her time and generous monetary support to the institution and she was the impetus of our current Campaign of Opportunities with a lead gift to help build a new field house, construct an on-campus baseball stadium and make improvements to residential housing," said Donna Moore Campbell, chair of the Board of Trustees. "She most recently served as vice chair of the board and chaired our strategic planning and development committee."

All proceeds from the dinner and awards ceremony go to support academic programming and student scholarships at the university. The 2018 Spotlight Awards were presented by Community Trust Bank.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Saturday showers don't dampen pride of artists and appreciation of guests at 15th Francisco's Farm Art Fair

Story and photos by Sarah Ladd
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Art vendors proudly displayed their masterpieces at the 15th annual Francisco’s Farm Art Fair Saturday and Sunday, despite frequent rain showers the first day.

The fair at Midway University featured many jewelers, painters, sculptors and potters, as well as food vendors including Bite Me and Hog Fathers BBQ & Catering. Live musicians sang while guests visited each tent and children enjoyed interactive booths.

"The Little Whirly" isn't so little.
Among the more striking images at the fair was a 12-foot steel statue that was visible above the tent line. Savanna Haner, who works with the statue’s artist, Anthony Slichenmyer, by adding the final paint touches, said the towering piece of art is simply for decorative purposes, but they hope to someday incorporate a design that would allow it to pump water for a garden. The tall piece has an ironic name, “The Little Whirly.”

Slichenmyer owns All But One Ironworks and had a beautiful display of steel flower garden markers and ornate mirror d├ęcor at his booth. He said the process of creating a piece can be quite long; he does all his work free-hand rather than using molds. Sometimes, he said, he will finish one part and need to start again because it was crooked. “It’s fun, though,” he said.

Sherburne's newspaper pots (click on photo for a larger version)
Potter Jimmy Sherburne displayed many eye-catching pots, bowls and jugs in his tent, such as his comical moonshine jug with a burned-in newspaper image that read, “Prohibition ends at last!” To get the newspaper and other images onto his pottery, he said, he adds the images using ceramic decals and then fires them a third time at 2,300 degrees. He said his motto is “Mundo Cane”, which means “A Dog’s World” or a “Dog’s Life” because of the similarity he sees between dog-like courage and loyalty and the human condition.

He also has a bigger vision for the pieces he creates: “Consider the timeless nature of pots,” he said. “Consider the archeaological potential of deriving cultural significance from the stories future scholars find on our pots. I do not make pots as memoriams so much as markers.”
Midway native Jimmy Sherburne's "Most Excellent Pots" (click on photo for a larger version)
Sherburne was raised in Midway and said he holds a special place in his heart for the area. Though he now lives in Pennsylvania and works out of his gallery there, Artist Hand Gallery, he returns to Midway for the fair to share his art with the community he loves.

The Making of a Master display and the children’s art display was inside the university’s Anne Hart Raymond Center. It showcased the work of the area’s finest artists.
Civil War style quilt (click on photo for a larger version)

On display was a striking quilt made by master quilter Patricia Brennan of Fort Thomas featuring 15 traditional block patterns using Civil War style fabric. Brennan’s description card said the quilt, “speaks to me of the importance of following your dream. At the time of the Civil War, the dream was freedom. My dream of passing on quilting skills and the love of quilting is much smaller but still important to me.”

The displays also included one adult-sized and one child-sized Appalachian chair made by father-and-son pair Terry and Joseph Ratliff.

The children’s art display included paintings and sketches from Northside, Simmons, Southside and Huntertown elementary schools, Woodford County High School, St. Leo’s School, Versailles Montessori and Woodford Christian School, and ranged from landscapes to self-portraits to abstract. (Click on photo for larger version)
An interactive booth outside allowed children like Joseph Hale (left) to decorate a container and plant a flower in it to take home and care for.

Several vendors said the intermittent rain dampened a few spirits, but they persevered and made the most of the event. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

John McDaniel and Liles Taylor challenge Magistrate Linda Popp in Tuesday's Democratic primary

By Sarah Ladd
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The first turn in the race for Woodford County magistrate from the Midway district is the primary election on Tuesday, in which one-term incumbent Linda Popp faces challengers John McDaniel and Liles Taylor.

McDaniel and Taylor had the race largely to themselves for several weeks, as Popp dealt with the illness and death of her husband, Ray Popp. He died April 5 at the age of 64, and she said in an ad in this week's Woodford Sun that his passing was unexpected. "Now I am looking forward to getting out to see as many of you as possible," she said.

Linda Popp (2014 photo)
Popp did not attend the April 26 Chamber of Commerce forum and did not participate in the Sun’s questionnaire. Her announcement of candidacy, which the Sun allows candidates to run as news at any time, appeared in this week's paper though the filing deadline was Jan. 29.

The Midway Messenger could not reach Popp for comment despite repeated telephone calls, a Facebook message and three visits to her home, the last one including delivery of a letter seeking an interview.

Liles Taylor
(Photo provided)
The winner of the primary will face Republican Joseph Greathouse of Midway in the Nov. 6 general election.

Taylor, who is Greathouse's next-door neighbor on Cottage Grove, is political coordinator of the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, the state federation of labor unions. He has been a field organizer for the state Democratic Party, chief of staff for the state House majority whip and deputy chief of staff to Crit Luallen when she was lieutenant governor.

McDaniel, a former city and county police officer, is in his second year on the Midway City Council. His term ends Dec. 31. He says that if he loses the primary, he plans to run again for the council, the filing deadline for which is in early August.

John McDaniel
(Photo by Sarah Ladd)
McDaniel said in an interview that he is running to give the district stronger representation: “Linda Popp is not as dedicated as Larry Craig,” whom she defeated in 2014. “You would see him out at 2 or 3 in the morning, doing whatever it took,” McDaniel said, adding that Craig was highly involved in community events and attended council meetings regularly, but “We never see Popp at council meetings.”

The letter that the Messenger left at Popp's home Thursday afternoon included McDaniel's quote, unattributed to him, but she did not respond by the letter's deadline of 5 p.m. Friday.

Taylor told the Messenger, “My candidacy is not in opposition to Linda. But I will say that I want to grow upon her work."

Taylor, 31, said at the Chamber of Commerce forum that he is running because of his love for the community. "It is a tremendous place to raise a family," he said. "I want to continue to have a small-town community." While taking steps to strengthen the county, he said, he wants to maintain the tight-knit atmosphere that already exists.

McDaniel, 68, said at the forum that he agreed with Taylor's comments about the community. "We live in a pretty special place," he said.

McDaniel said he hopes to be a liaison between the city government and county governments, which have sometimes been in conflict. He said he would attend council meetings and work on more open communication and coordination between the city and county.

Future plans and a different worldview

Among Taylor's stated goals is increased transparency through online access. He wants to see public forums streamed online and give the public online access to documents such as the county budget. He told the Sun he would have “regular, advertised times of availability within the district.” 

McDaniel, asked by the Sun what he would do to bring transparency, said “I don’t have any agendas, such as using this position to run for a higher office. I will have an open-door policy to anyone who wants to talk to me. I will not be afraid to ask questions and insist on answers.”

Taylor told the Messenger, “I currently have no plans to run for any other office, including higher office. My only future plans are to continue to work hard: knocking on doors, making phone calls, and hopefully earning the opportunity to serve the people of our community.”

The two candidates agree on several issues, but their worldview is different, due to their 37-year age gap. McDaniel looks to his life of experience for guidance, and Taylor looks to the future.

Taylor said, “I’m proud of the experience I’ve accumulated in my 31 years. … I’m honored to have the support and wisdom of several community leaders from different generations, including great public servants like Carl Rollins [a former mayor and state representative] and Doris Leigh,” a former council member.

McDaniel has had a long public and civic career. He said he was a co-founder of the Woodford County Arts League, president of Midway Renaissance and the Midway Business Association, and a founder, 45 years ago, of the festival now called the Midway Fall Festival.

His history involves three and a half years spent in prison for selling drugs. He told the Messenger in 2012 that he began selling part of his pain-medication refills because he didn’t want to become drug-dependent and needed money, then concluded that drug users “were going to get the stuff from somebody,” so he began selling other drugs – and got caught. “I never did drugs myself,” he said in 2016.

"I've been very open with all that," he said this month. "That's probably the very reason I'm back here." 

After McDaniel's sentence ended in 2000, he threw himself back into civic activities and was named Midway Citizen of the Year in 2003. In 2015, then-Gov. Steve Beshear restored his rights to vote and hold office. In 2016, he ran fourth among seven candidates for the six council seats, getting more votes than two incumbents.

One of McDaniel's goals is to get Midway back into the county's recycling program, now that the county program can accept glass. "That is something we have to look into to see if it's advantageous for us," he said.

Taylor said he wants to focus on the county budget. "The most important responsibility of the Fiscal Court is crafting a budget that meets our community’s current needs, while investing in solutions for tomorrow," he said. "I will strive to set budget priorities that carefully balance vital investments in public safety, education (early childhood, K-12, & post-secondary), infrastructure, senior services, public health, middle-income housing, parks and recreation, competitive wages for county employees, and economic development." 

Taylor said he wants to show strong leadership in finding better solutions for alleviating traffic in Versailles without sending more traffic down Midway Road, US 62. "I had classmates that died on Midway Road growing up," he said. "It's a really dangerous road and it's really important that we come up with a safe solution for Woodford countians that does not increase traffic, particularly truck traffic, on Midway Road."

McDaniel said he has been interested in the traffic problem for a long time and agrees redirecting traffic down Midway Road would be a disaster. “We have been discussing this in council meetings since 2013,” he said. He usually attended the meetings; he is the Sun's Midway correspondent.

Popp said in her Sun ad, “I will continue to stand up for YOU and bring YOUR concerns to the forefront.” She wrote that she would continue to make Woodford County a “better place for your residents and children to live and prosper. I will continue to be YOUR voice.”

Monday, May 14, 2018

Francisco's Farm Arts Fair is this Saturday and Sunday

By Sarah Ladd
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Francisco's Farm Art Fair is returning this weekend for its 1415th annual celebration of community, art and good food.

Photo by Liz Spencer, UK College of Communication and Information
The fair, Saturday and Sunday, May 19-20, will feature approximately 100 artists who will sell their work and interact with the community. According to the fair's website, only two categories are accepted: two-dimensional (oils, acrylics, drawings, pastels, mixed media, watercolors, photography, original prints) and three-dimensional and sculpture (ceramic, fiber, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed media, paper, stone, wood).

Saturday, the festival will open at 10 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. On Sunday, it will open at 10 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. Admission is free and parking is $5.

Metalwork by Anthony Slichenmyer
The event is named for Colonel John Francisco, the original owner of the land that became Midway. He sold his farm to the Lexington and Ohio Railroad in 1835, after which the L&O planned and built Kentucky’s first railroad town.

In 2004, Midway Renaissance began the festival on the campus of Midway College. In 2011-13, it was held at Equus Run winery, but has since returned to the campus, now Midway University.

The Kentucky Arts Council’s “Makings of a Master” exhibit and the folk and traditional art tent, among others, will be featured at this year's festival.

Cabinet by William Nardin
According to the fair's website, the Woodford County Library will provide free children's activities. "The interactive booth allows kids to create beautiful art of their own," the website says.

New this year, "On the Move Art Studio" will be at the fair on Saturday. This organization seeks to provide a platform for children from low-income families to learn about art. The fair has partnered with Woodford County Public Schools to let students to display their art. A ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday to honor the students.

Food and snack vendors will include Chrisman Mill Vineyards, West Sixth Brewery, Honnah-Lee Bubble Tea, Bite Me Gourmet Corndogs, Hogfathers BBQ, The Addie Wagon, Jasmine Rice and Go-Go Burger. Live music will be provided from the steps of the Little Memorial Library.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Community garden is in its 11th year of providing food, knowledge and 'quality relationships' for Midway

John Davis worked in the garden Saturday.
Story and photos by Sarah Ladd
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Members of the Midway community met Saturday to continue planting tomatoes and peppers in the Community Garden on the grounds of Midway Presbyterian Church at 103 N. Turner St.

The garden is starting its 11th year of providing a free planting space, food and agricultural education for the Midway public. According to its Facebook page, its official mission is "To educate, to encourage and to support our community with quality food, quality relationships and quality knowledge about nature and nutrition."

John Davis, who has been involved with the garden since its beginning in 2008, said it originally only had two rows of vegetables. With more volunteers and space, it now has five long rows with lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, beets, carrots, okra, potatoes, radishes, cabbage, garlic, onions, cucumbers, squash and kale. The space also has an herb garden and a pollinator garden designed to attract helpful insects with pollen and nectar.

Next to the garden the church has created a playground for children.
Davis said part of the garden’s beauty is its multiple facets. The church put in some playground equipment as well as a recycling bin. "You can bring your kids down here to play, and while they're playing, you can pick your dinner," he said.

Through the summer, children come to play on the swing set and pick cherry tomatoes on their way home, proving it is a way to teach them about raising their own food and taking care of agricultural life, Davis said. To protect the children, no pesticides are used on the plants.

"It's not just about the garden," Davis said. "It's the conversation! The goal is to have fun." With picnic tables, a sandbox, flowers and benches, the space is a welcoming place for neighbors to socialize.

Poles are ready for vines of green beans.
The garden is open to the community, with official work days each Saturday at 10 a.m. when volunteers weed and water the plants.

When harvest time comes, everyone who needs food may help themselves to the produce. Whatever is left is donated to the Woodford County Food Bank or to the free monthly community dinner at Midway Christian Church.

The Presbyterian Church and other donors in the community donate the plants and seeds for the garden each year. The church is selling T-shirts this year to raise money for the garden's increased expenses. For more information, email office@midwaypresbyterian.org or call 859-846-4751.