Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Print edition of the Messenger highlights the election

The free print edition of the Midway Messenger has been distributed to locations in the area. It includes stories about the races for mayor and Fiscal Court magistrate, profiles of the City Council candidates, a story about the Chamber of Commerce forum for city candidates; recent stories about City Council actions and changes in and near Midway Station; and stories of lasting interest, such as an update on retail business on Main Street and a look back at Midway University's transition to coeducational. The printer mistakenly printed a preliminary version, so we reprinted and restocked all the locations with the updated version, and distributed to additional locations. The Messenger normally appears in print twice a year; this is the first and only edition for 2018, due to the election and the lack of a Midway-centered journalism class at the University of Kentucky this spring. Get a copy!

Photos and video of a one-day-early Halloween in Midway, from a local citizen journalist

The Midway Messenger welcomes contributions from citizens. As we like to say, "Every American has the First Amendment right to commit journalism." Marietje Massie took some nice pictures of trick-or-treaters, and a video of the party on West Higgins Street, and shared them with us, and with you.
Two Cinderellas, with a Spider-Man bodyguard and a little companion
Trick-or-treaters at the home of John and Patricia Holloway, overall winner of the Midway Woman's Club decorating contest

Monday, October 29, 2018

City Council resets trick or treat for Tuesday, 6 to 8 p.m.

The Midway City Council voted unanimously this evening to reschedule trick or treat for tomorrow from 6 to 8 p.m. because heavy rain is expected on Halloween.

During a five-minute special meeting, the council heard from Woodford County Emergency Management Director Drew Chandler, who said heavy rain is a certainty "Wednesday and Thursday. The prudent thing is to move it forward," because rain makes young pedestrians less visible.

Chandler added, "It's not just going to rain. It's going to be a lot of rain." Council Member Johnny Wilson said The Weather Channel was forecasting two to five inches.

Lexington, Versailles and Frankfort have all moved trick or treat to Tuesday.

Midway's decision was a foregone conclusion. As soon as Mayor Grayson Vandegrift called the meeting to order and said other cities had rescheduled, Council Member Sarah Hicks said, "Motion," echoing the perfunctory adjournment motion Council Member Bruce Southworth usually makes at the end of meetings. Southworth, perhaps beaten to the punch, seconded the motion.

Vandegrift said he would use social media, one-call notices and personal contact to get the word out, including canvassing with city workers and willing council members Tuesday morning.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Council will consider moving trick or treat to Tuesday

Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said in an email this afternoon that he has called a special meeting of the City Council for 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29 at City Hall "to discuss, and possibly take action on, moving trick or treat to Tuesday night." Heavy rain is forecast for the afternoon and evening of Halloween, Wednesday, Oct. 31. (That has prompted City of Frankfort officials to consider the same move; they have said they will announce a decision at 10 a.m. Monday.) In a social-media post, Vandegrift invited citizens to attend the meeting and share their thoughts.

Mayoral candidates run on their records: Vandegrift as city official, Wilson as school and state official

By Hannah Woosley
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Midway’s Nov. 6 mayoral election is a choice between Mayor Grayson Vandegrift, running on his performance in the last four years, and Ambrose Wilson IV, running on his work as a Woodford County school board member, employee relations manager and state official.

Vandegrift, left, and Wilson, right, agree on many goals for the city, such as better infrastructure, affordable housing and a city-wide notification system, but differ on the details and the order in which the work should be done.

In campaign advertising, Vandegrift says he’s running on lower taxes, better services and improving infrastructure. “We’re doing very well,” he said at his only forum with Wilson. “Let’s stay the course; let’s not mess with success.”

Wilson emphasizes his 27 years on the Woodford County Board of Education, including his efforts to establish Northside Elementary School, in what some called “a dying community” at the time, and the school’s summer reading program. “I will care about the city of Midway the same way that I’ve cared about the educational process for the past 26 years,” he said at the forum.

Vandegrift said in an interview that the place to start infrastructure work is a camera inspection of old sewer lines. “We’re going to camera almost the entire part of the city that has aging lines . . . and we’re going to clean them out as we go,” he said. “The quicker we get started on it, the better we’ll be in the long run.”

Because the city paid off the bond issues for its sewage-treatment plants, that freed up $63,000 in sewer fund money and an additional $88,000 in emergency funds, and general fund money is also available.

Vandegrift says he wants to lower sewer rates by 25 percent in December, much like the city lowered property taxes this year because occupational-tax revenue has doubled. That gain came mainly from plants in the Midway Station industrial park, developments for which he takes partial credit.

Wilson said the city needs an overall plan for infrastructure, to set priorities. He believes the place to start if elected is a notification system, in which those who register with it get automatic notice of pertinent information. He said a one-call system where “everybody receives the same news at the same time,” is something that can happen quickly, and that’s why he’s focusing on it first.

The candidates also differ on their approach to affordable housing.

Vandegrift said he wants to establish an affordable-housing task force to look at requirements for homeowners to get state and federal monies for down payments and low-interest loans, and work with owners of land that’s already zoned residential to encourage development of affordable housing.

Wilson said he wants to focus on infill development and converting old structures to single-family living or apartments. “We can’t avoid this issue any longer,” Wilson at the forum. In an interview, he endorsed the task force idea, but said Vandegrift “should have done it four years ago when he was elected mayor rather than putting it off.”

Wilson said likewise about the blighted-property ordinance that Vandegrift proposed more than a year ago. The ordinance has stalled mainly over whether a new board would consider citations. Vandegrift said this summer that he wanted to get the ordinance passed this year, but on Oct. 10 told the Messenger that it should be up to the council that takes office Jan. 1.

Vandegrift and the council have also wrestled with ways to discourage speeding.

Vandegrift said he believes edge lines have discouraged speeding on Winter Street, and the city will add them to Stephens Street. He hopes to add and decorate sidewalk “bulb-outs,” curb extensions that reduce pedestrian crossing distance and tighten lanes, on Winter Street.

Wilson said he wants to work on the issue with the Versailles Police Department, which Midway pays for patrolling the city. He said the city’s mobile radar gun and edge lines slowed traffic for a while because Winter Street looked different, but he said he doesn’t consider the lines a deterrent.

Wilson said at the forum that he would focus on streets and sidewalks. Last year, Vandegrift and the council started paying half of selected property owners’ sidewalk improvements, up to $1,000.

During his first year in office, Vandegrift pushed through the council, on a 4-2 vote, an ordinance banning discrimination in public accommodations, employment and housing based on sexual orientation, gender identity or familial status.

Asked if he’s for the ordinance, Wilson said, “I’m not for discrimination of anybody, absolutely.”

The candidates are of different generations.

Wilson, 67, says he has more than 30 years’ experience in human resources, conflict resolution, banking and government. He served the administration of Gov. Steve Beshear from 2008 to 2013, ending as secretary of public protection and regulation, where he supervised 13 agencies with budgets totaling $98 million.

Wilson said his family moved a lot as a child, and he graduated high school in Oklahoma, then attended Oklahoma State University for two years then transferred to the University of Kentucky, and dropped out in 1972. He said he went back to UK in 1981 and graduated with a general studies degree. He said he has lived in Midway on and off for the last 34 years. His father was mayor from 1993 to 1996. He and his wife Karen have three children.

Vandegrift, 36, grew up in Scott County’s Ironworks Estates area three miles north of Midway. He attended college for three years at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, and one year at the University of Kentucky but didn’t graduate. He and has lived in Midway since 2007, when he and his family opened a restaurant. Since selling it, he has worked various jobs, currently as a part-time tour guide at the Mary Todd Lincoln House in Lexington. He and his wife Katie, a banker, have a son.

He was president of the Midway Business Association in 2008, 2009 and 2012, Fall Festival coordinator from 2011 to 2014, and City Council member in 2013-14. He was elected mayor in 2014, defeating Sharon Turner, who had served eight years on the council, by a vote of 374 to 325.

Each candidate was asked why he’s the better choice.

Vandegrift said, “Because I’ve done the job for four years and I’ve proven I can work with anybody.” He said that through his “communication skills” he’s created jobs, doubled the city’s revenue, paved Midway’s worst roads, revitalized Walter Bradley Park and more. “I truly believe results speak for themselves.”

Wilson said, “I will be mayor from day one. I will start trying to accomplish things from day one. . . . There’s not a problem I won’t deal with.” He also said he thinks he will have a good relationship with everyone on the city council and can work with them well.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Next-door neighbors, Republican Greathouse and Democrat Taylor, offer a choice in race for magistrate

By Christie Netherton
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Next-door neighbors Joseph Greathouse and Liles Taylor are running against each other for Midway-area magistrate on the Woodford County Fiscal Court in the Nov. 6 election.

Issues for Democrat Taylor and Republican Greathouse include land use, development, housing and a countywide fairness ordinance.

Joseph Greathouse
The county’s agricultural identity and potential growth are issues, as they have been for 50 years.

Greathouse said in a Sept. 7 forum that he would like to see the area continue to grow within that identity instead of urbanizing. He said Midway should be contained and not have sprawling growth, but focus on developing business that will stay in the county and contribute to the existing community.

“We have a great agricultural community in our county,” said Greathouse. “I’d love to really try to promote that through an agriculture center for grain elevator, hay distribution, cattle facilities—where small farmers can get together and group their cattle for pot loads to sell which in turn brings them more money.”

Liles Taylor
Taylor said the county needs to meet the needs of the current workforce and population, and maintain an economy rooted within the county’s agricultural identity.

Taylor said he has concerns over development of the Edgewood property on the east edge of Versailles, which is tied up in court. Taylor said he is concerned that the current hospital would become another vacant building if a new one is built in Edgewood. He said the county must exercise creativity in development and try to repurpose as much as possible so that developments do not encroach on farmland.

“I have some serious concerns about the expansion of urban service boundary and the loss of farmland that’s so vital to our community as an identity,” Taylor said. He said repurposing properties can be difficult process because “not all vacant and underutilized properties in the community are for sale.”

Greathouse said intentions for use of the land are not being made clear to the public, and there is also potential for an industrial park to be developed in the Edgewood area, which would put more traffic on Paynes Mill Road.

Greathouse said that he would like to see increased police presence and updated speed limit signs and guardrails in the First Magisterial District.

Taylor said the proposed Versailles bypass to relieve traffic in Versailles would send truck traffic to Midway Road, US 62, which is already dangerous. He said one of his priorities if elected will be to work with the county to address traffic issues in Versailles in ways that do not increase truck traffic on Midway Road.

The candidates agreed that the county needs more affordable housing.

Taylor said that it is a difficult task while trying to preserve farmland. “It’s a delicate balance to make sure we don’t just have sprawl out into the county and lose farmland just for the sake of building homes,” he said. “Unfortunately, in the current economy, most builders are building homes that are not affordable.”

Greathouse said there is a need for affordable housing in Midway, and said he was disappointed with the rezoning of Midway Station and adjacent areas for more industrial use, leaving only 11 acres for residential development. “I think there was a real golden opportunity and they let it go,” he said.

The Woodford County Fairness Coalition has been pushing the fiscal court to pass a non-discrimination ordinance similar to the one Midway passed in 2015. Taylor said he would be completely for such an ordinance, which would ban discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or familial status.

Greathouse said that no one should be discriminated against, but he does not completely agree with the public-accommodations aspect of the ordinance. He said forcing someone to unwillingly participate in a business exchange has potential to create resentment among some business owners.

District 1 has two precincts, No. 21 (city) and No. 2 (unincorporated area).
The polling place for both is Northside Elementary School, the green dot.
A longstanding concern for Midway has been its relationship with the rest of Woodford County. Greathouse said Midway is in good standing with the county, but Taylor said there is work to be done.

“I would love to accomplish an increased working relationship between the county and the city of Midway,” said Taylor. “I think we’ve made some strides in the last few years, but I do think that’s really important.”

Another issue for Taylor is transparency and accessibility. He said he would like to create a portal for citizens to make service requests that could map their location and track progress in addressing and resolving problems, most specifically road repairs. He said at the forum that he would also like to make the county budget available online and livestream fiscal court meetings.

Taylor, 31, has been political coordinator for the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, a federation of labor unions, for almost three years, based in Frankfort. He grew up south of Versailles, graduating from Woodford County High and getting a bachelor’s degree in communication at Asbury College and a master’s degree in public administration at Morehead State University. He held several positions in the administration of then-Gov. Steve Beshear.

Taylor and his wife, Robin Lowe Taylor, have two children, Julie and Bennett Taylor.

Taylor says he is an active member of the Midway Baptist Church and a member of the Versailles Kiwanis Club, where he served as president for two terms, engaging children in the community and raising scholarship funds for students. He is the Kiwanis adviser to the high school’s Key Club, a service learning program focused on teaching student members public service and leadership skills by involving them in volunteer work.

Greathouse, 44, is a fourth-generation farmer, working as manager for his family farm operation of approximately 1,000 acres, alongside his father, Tom Greathouse, uncle Steven Greathouse and two brothers, Tommy and Michael Greathouse. He is first vice president of the Woodford County Fair Association, where he works on livestock shows, a position he has held for almost seven years. He is a graduate of Woodford County High School.

Greathouse said he moved from his family farm 10 years ago after a fire. He lives in Northridge Estates with his wife, Kim Greathouse, and three children, Andrew Bruno, Jeremiah Greathouse and Emma Greathouse. He was a member of the elected board that oversees the federal Farm Service Agency's work in the county, but had to give up the post because the race for magistrate is partisan.

Both candidates were asked about running against a next-door neighbor.

Taylor said, “Running against your neighbor is an incredible opportunity for civility and community mindedness, especially in such divisive political times. I have the opportunity to say hello or even just exchange friendly waves with not only Joe, but also his wonderful family. The only drawback is that I think we both tend to kind of sneak out campaigning, out of courtesy and respect for each other. Well, that and my 4-year-old daughter can’t understand why I tell her she’s not allowed to ask Joe to vote for me.”

Greathouse said, “It does not bother me at all. We are like most neighbors and speak, but do not discuss the campaign. To me, it is not about who I am running against, it is about running to support and be a voice for my home district. No matter the outcome, we will still be neighbors.”

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Price bids farewell to MIdway Fire Dept. after 43 years

Vincent Price, left, who recently retired from the Midway Fire Department as assistant chief after 43 years of service, was honored with a reception at the department last night. Here, he goes through the food line with Chief Butch Armstrong, with whom he formed the department's leadership team for 25 years. “The only way I was going to take on being chief is if Vince would serve as assistant chief,” Armstrong told the Midway Messenger in 2016.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Mayor, challenger see infrastructure need; Vandegrift says it's happening, Wilson says a plan is needed

Ambrose Wilson IV and Mayor Grayson Vandegrift (Photos by Hannah Woosley, UK School of Journalism and Media)
By Christie Netherton
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

In their only scheduled forum Thursday night, the mayoral candidates agreed that infrastructure was one of the most important issues presently facing Midway.

The forum at Midway University also included City Council candidates, who touched on some of the same issues. For profiles of the council candidates, click here.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift, seeking a second four-year term, noted that the city recently paid off its sewer debt, opening up more funds to invest in repairing water and sewer lines:  “By doubling our occupational tax revenue and paying off our sewer debt, we’re in the position we need to be in now to start taking on these larger projects.”

Challenger Ambrose Wilson IV, chair of the county school board, said infrastructure repairs, including water and sewer lines, sidewalks and streets, would require mapping out a plan and creating a budget to prioritize and work on everything.

Vandegrift said the city is already working towards making repairs, photographing and cleaning out almost all the old sewer lines, allowing them to pin-point problem areas. He estimated the cost at $300,000 to $400,000.

Vandegrift noted that increased occupational tax revenue has allowed the city to reduce the property tax rate by 25 percent, and he said he wants to do likewise with water bills if re-elected. “I see people struggle every month to pay those bills,” he said. “That’s a real way to put money back in people’s pockets.”

On other issues, Wilson said speeding is a major safety concern, and said he had recently met with the police chief to discuss specific areas that need immediate police presence to encourage safe driving, specifically Winter Street and East Stephens Street.

“There’s got to be more that we can do in that area,” Wilson said. “I think the police department is very willing to engage with us and work with us about these priorities.”

Vandegrift said more police presence is not the best long-term solution. He said that the city has already begun work on a comprehensive traffic plan, approved by the city council, to add sidewalk extensions at intersections and narrow trafficways with edge lines.

Wilson, a skeptic of the edge lines, said, “A citizen told me the best thing about the edge lines is it gives you a safe place to walk so you don’t have to walk on the sidewalks.”

Vandegrift said sidewalks, by law, are property owners’ responsibility, but the city last year started paying half of repairs up to $1,000

Candidates were also asked about a blighted property ordinance, which has been a priority for Vandegrift.

“It’s a snake-pit issue,” he said. “It is very difficult to deal with blighted property because, as it should be, the rights lie with the homeowners. We’ve got to be sensitive with people. There are people who struggle. You can’t just come tell them to go fix their property or else, but there are ways to help them.”

Vandegrift said the city needs a code enforcement board to make sure that city decisions regarding blighted property can be upheld in circuit court. Because the issue is complex, it would probably be best for the next city council to tackle the issue, he said.

Wilson replied, “The easy thing to do is to study it, put it off, wait ‘til after the election – a new council, but it needs to be addressed. You know, four years is long enough to come up with a plan to deal with blighted property.”

Wilson and Vandegrift agreed that there needs to be more affordable housing in Midway, where land prices are high. Vandegrift said he would like to start an Affordable Housing Task Force to help tackle the issue.

Vandegrift later added that with more affordable land, the city would be more likely to attract a hotel in the near future. “We also need to work with land developers to bring the land prices down a little bit. I think it’s a little too expensive right now to build a hotel here,” said Vandegrift, who said he has already been working closely with the Woodford County Economic Development Authority to attract a hotel. “We’re gonna get one here in Midway, it’s just a matter of time.”

Wilson said he is more concerned with fixing Midway’s sidewalks and streets than getting a hotel. “If I’m elected mayor, I don’t have a solution for getting a hotel in Midway, but I will concentrate on our sidewalks. I will concentrate on our streets,” he said.

In his opening statement, Vandegrift summed up his argument for himself: “We’re doing very well; let’s stay the course, let’s not mess with success.” 

Wilson said, “If I’m elected your mayor, I will care about the city of Midway the same way that I’ve cared about the educational process for the past 26 years. There's not a problem I won’t deal with.”

City Council forum: Council candidates also participated in a forum directly after the mayoral forum. Both were sponsored by the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce. Chamber Executive Director Don Vizi said Council Member Kaye Nita Gallagher was out of town and unable to attend, and candidate Danielle Doth arrived late because she was teaching a class in Versailles.
Left to right: Sara Hicks, Bruce Southworth, Stacy Thurman, Logan Nance, John McDaniel and John Holloway
The biggest topic for council candidates was whether they believed Midway’s downtown businesses were successful and what they would do to contribute to that success and attract new businesses. Council Member John McDaniel said he would like to bring a bourbon distillery to town, but several candidates said that they would like to see downtown businesses maintain regular hours, including Logan Nance, Danielle Doth and Council Member Sara Hicks.

“I truly believe that if we get consumers to Midway, that it will in turn attract business,” said Nance. “Whenever people come to Midway and stores that they want to visit aren’t open, it will discourage them from continuing to come visit our town.”

One way to encourage businesses to keep their stores open is to hold different events throughout the year to bring more people in rather than just relying on Keeneland twice a year, said Nance. The Midway Business Association is trying to have monthly events.

Hicks suggested that building owners consider converting spaces above businesses into lofts, to diversify business income and bring in regular customers who would help shops maintain a clientele during the winter.

Infrastructure needs were addressed several times, first by Nance. “I really think that’s something that everybody can look at and say that is the best use of our tax dollars,” he said.

McDaniel, Hicks and candidate John Holloway, the city’s volunteer park manager, agreed that infrastructure is a large part of fixing up Midway and making it a better place to live and work. Hicks and Council Member Bruce Southworth also suggested more recreational activities in town; both suggested partnering up with Midway University to create a recreational program or allow residential membership for university facilities.

Doth also agreed that the council should push for infrastructure repairs.  "I personally would like to see a public restroom. I'd like to see our park being supported more and encouraged,” she said. “There's so many awesome things that our town can offer. I feel like Midway is kind of an aging home. It just needs a little extra work to get it back up.”

Candidate Stacy Thurman called for forming neighborhood associations to help tackle issues regarding infrastructure repairs as well as infill development and housing needs. With neighborhood associations, problems could be addressed to the city through neighborhood representatives, making the process less overwhelming, she said.

“There’s a group of people already working on this and I don’t think … all people realize what a benefit this could be to our community,” Thurman said. “These neighborhoods would have a chance to work together to not only get to know each other, take care of each other and look out for each other, but also be advocates for their neighborhood.”

One of the final topics discussed was how to promote transparency in the council and improve community involvement.

Southworth said that the government is already practicing transparency. “Our records are open,” he said. “We have nothing to hide.”

Hicks, McDaniel and Holloway called for streaming council meetings on social media to help increase community awareness and involvement. Nance suggested posting the city budget online for easy public access, in addition to livestreaming council meetings.

County opens part-time ambulance station in Midway

Woodford County Road Department employees are installing drainage tile around the building to keep it dry.
After years of asking, Midway finally has a local ambulance for emergency medical services. The old Woodford County Fire Department building on Leestown Road has become Station 3 of the county ambulance service. The need became greater with employment growth at Midway Station.

"It was needed in the north end of the county, and it helps everybody," County Judge-Executive John Coyle said, noting the presence of an elementary school and a growing university in the town.

For now, the Midway ambulance is staffed part-time. Emergency Medical Services Director Freeman Bailey said it is assigned to the Midway call area 12 hours a day but is based in Midway only from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, which covers the heaviest call times in the area.

Bailey told the Midway Messenger that said EMS is "working diligently" with the county Fiscal Court to analyze call volumes and costs before expanding staffing. He said the service usually gets one to three calls a day from the Midway call area, north of Old Frankfort Pike.

Because the building is now occupied on a regular basis, the county Road Department is installing drainage tile to prevent flooding problems that plagued the facility and helped prompt construction of a new fire station and training center just west of town on Leestown Road.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Woman's Club announces winners of Halloween Decorating Contest; photo submissions are welcome

The Midway Woman's Club has announced the winners of its Halloween Decorating Contest. More photos of winners will be added later, and the Messenger will accept contributed photos; just send them to al.cross@uky.edu. Here are the winners:
Overall Design: 119 East Stephens Street (above, home of John and Patricia Holloway)

Best Business: 101 Sexton Way (The Homeplace at Midway)

Creepiest: 232 West Higgins Street (won this award last year)

Best Daytime: 209 Gayland

Most Fun: 121 Carriage Lane (below)

Best Use of Inflatables: 231 West Higgins Street

Most Kid-Friendly: 323 South Winter Street

Best Pumpkin: 106 Cottage Grove (won this award last year)

Scariest: 211 South Winter Street (last year's Overall Design winner)

Best Spiderweb: 219 Cottage Grove

Best Use of Technology: 138 Carriage Lane

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Council rezones most of Midway Station, expands barrel chair project, hears park report, considers website

The council rezoned the hashed area, mainly in red. Lakeshore and AHK are only partly in the original Midway Station.
By Hannah Woosley and Sierra McLean
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The Midway City Council voted Tuesday evening to rezone most of the remaining residential land in Midway Station to industrial in hopes of bringing an undisclosed company with 32 jobs.

The rezoning, recommended by the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning Commission, largely closes a major chapter in the history of the property north of Interstate 64.

Midway Station started out as an industrial park 30 years ago, but attracted few jobs. In 2008, the city and the county Economic Development Authority redesigned it as a commercial and residential development. That plan was undermined by the Great Recession, and during the economic recovery the property became attractive to employers like Lakeshore Learning Materials and American Howa Kentucky, which turned it into a thriving industrial park.

Developer Dennis Anderson first said he didn’t want to ask for rezoning until he had a prospective buyer. This summer he joined the EDA in asking the Planning Commission for the rezoning.

The council vote was 5-0. Council Member Kaye Nita Gallagher was absent; she said later that she came to City Hall but left because she didn’t feel well.

Barrel Project: The council voted to accept the Midway Business Association’s offer to expand the sponsorship for one of several chairs to be made from bourbon barrels and placed around the county as a tourist attraction.

The council had approved a $1,000 sponsorship to bring a chair to Midway, commission an artist to decorate the chair and display it for a six-week period, after which it would be auctioned. It passed up a $2,000 sponsorship that would allow collaboration with the artist on the design and keep the chair in Midway permanently.

Steve Morgan, representing the MBA, proposed that it donate an additional $1,000 so the city can help design the chair and keep it. The council voted 4-1, with Johnny Wilson voting no, to switch to the $2,000 proposal.

Walter Bradley Park: Midway Parks Board Chair Cecelia Gass updated the council on the progress of the 11 items that were budgeted for the fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2019.

She said six items have been completed or are on their way to completion: planting of 60 trees with edible fruits and nuts, mostly near Midway University; a new entrance to the park behind the library, with a fence built on top of the quarry for safety; a pergola over a walkway that received too much rain; picnic pavilion railings; improvement of the fence-line near the library with planted vines and flower fields; and a retaining wall near the bridge.

Gass said about half of the budget has been spent, and this was where the board projected they would be at this time.

Collective website: Elisha Holt, the MBA’s contracted coordinator, asked the council to support a collective website for all of Woodford County, with funds for the site’s marketing.

Holt said she needs $10,000 for one year for marketing projects like billboards, and print and online media. If the council were to agree to a partnership, Holt said the council has the choice of how much money to donate.

“The community is looking for a place online where a person, whether you’re a local, a tourist or somebody that’s considering moving to Woodford County, one centralized location where you can go to get everything you need to have,” Holt said.

The website’s title is UniquelyWoodford.com and would contain an events calendar, aspects from each city such as council meetings, public education, churches and health care, as well as tourism links, Holt said.

She said all content would be linked back to the original source, and that her goal is just to have a collective entity.

Council Member Sara Hicks voiced concerns, saying Holt’s site would make the Meet Me in Midway website redundant. Holt replied, “Nothing is duplicated.”

So far, the MBA and The Woodford Sun, which also contracts with Holt, are partnering with her and will have links to their website on her proposed site and vice versa, Holt said. She said she will be meeting soon with the Versailles City Council and the Woodford County Tourism Commission.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift suggested that the council not vote on the proposal immediately and might want to “put it on the next budget.” Council Member Steve Simoff, who is not running for re-election, said he is “all for supporting Midway and the surrounding cities.”

Midway University softball field: Rusty Kennedy, Midway University’s vice president of admissions and athletics, asked the council’s permission to make improvements to the university’s softball field.

He said the university wants to add a sidewalk behind the third base dugout that will lead to the blacktop, because of the mud accumulation in the spring, and pour a 3-feet-high concrete wall along the backstop from dugout to dugout.

Kennedy said the project cost would be supplemented by a softball player’s father who owns a concrete company. He said they don’t need any money from the city for the estimated $3,200 project, just the council’s approval.

The council approved Kennedy’s request 5-0.

Upcoming events: The council also approved event permits for the downtown Christmas season kickoff beginning the first Saturday in November. The events will include a chili cookoff, Santa Claus and a mini-train. Here is the schedule:
Nov. 3: Event kickoff
Nov. 17: Chili cookoff
Nov. 24: RJ Corman Railroad Co. is to bring Santa, as usual
Dec. 8 and 15: Mini-train rides

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

City funds barrel chair project; looks to rezone lands in and near Midway Station, get access to Elkhorn Creek

By Hannah Woosley
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

With hope that other governments will follow suit, the Midway City Council voted 5-1 Monday to give $1,000 to the Woodford County Barrel Project, which will make chairs from recycled bourbon barrels and display them throughout the county.

Example of a bourbon barrel chair
Dan Rosenberg, representing the project, gave the council two options: a $1,000 sponsorship to bring a chair to Midway, commission an artist to decorate the chair, display it for six weeks period then auction the chair; or a $2,000 sponsorship to bring the chair to Midway, collaborate with the artist on the design and keep the chair in Midway permanently.

Because the council chose the $1,000 sponsorship, the chair must be auctioned at the end of the display period. Rosenberg said the money received from the auction will go back into another barrel chair for Midway, or another community project.

Rosenberg said he has applied for a grant from the Woodford County Bluegrass Community Foundation to create a map to mark the areas a chair will be displayed for tourists and residents to see them all.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift asked Rosenberg if Versailles and the county government were supporting the project, and Rosenberg said he didn’t know. He said he had about 12 sponsors lined up.

Vandegrift commended Rosenberg for the idea, but called for cooperation. “I think community spirit in Midway is great, but I admit the community spirit between Versailles, Midway and the rest of the county is lacking in some ways,” he said.

The payment for the 36-inch-tall, 35-inch-wide chair is due Nov. 30, and the chair will be made and displayed next year.

Rezoning for industry: The Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning Commission has approved an application for rezoning a little over 73 acres in Midway Station, from residential to industrial. Vandegrift said he would call a special meeting to first reading of the rezoning ordinance. He said after the meeting that the city hadn't had time to draft a rezoning ordinance.

UPDATE: The meeting has been called for noon Tuesday, Oct. 9.

Dennis Anderson, of Anderson Communities in Lexington, optioned Midway Station for residential and commercial development in 2008, but after the Great Recession hit and recovery began, the land became attractive to employers: American Howa, an auto-parts company, and Lakeshore Learning Materials, which built a distribution center.

Anderson and the Woodford County Economic Development Authority decided against residential construction on the property, and city officials have agreed.

A company that is asking to remain anonymous until a deal is possibly closed could bring 32 jobs to Midway on this land if the area is rezoned, according to Vandegrift.
Vision Engineering map, labeled by Midway Messenger, shows in red (and a small block of green) the property that is the subject of a rezoning ordinance to will get first reading Tuesday. The county will have say-so in rezoning the large green tract.
Creek access: Another rezoning, next to Midway Station, has been proposed by the EDA and landowner Homer Freeny. The 138 acres of farmland on the northern boundary of Midway Station and Georgetown Road, which is already designated as a future workplace in the county’s Comprehensive Plan and is in the urban services area, would be rezoned to light industrial.

Freeny said in a letter to the commission that in return for to access McKinney Avenue from his land, he would allow access through his land to South Elkhorn Creek for recreational purposes. There is no public access to the creek in the area. The rezoning application has been delayed pending a plan for developing the tract.

Vandegrift said, “I think we need to keep moving forward with this idea that Mr. Freeny has pushed forward, especially with its access to the creek.” He also said, “I think rezoning this to [light industrial] makes the most sense.” Unlike Midway Station, the property is outside the city limits, so the Woodford County Fiscal Court will have final say on the rezoning.

Halloween: The council approved Wednesday, Oct. 31, from 6 to 8 p.m. for this year’s trick-or-treat.

Fire Department: A ceremony honoring former Assistant Fire Chief Vincent Price’s service to Midway will be held Oct. 25 at 6 p.m. at the Midway Fire Station. All are welcome to attend.

Movie crew coming: A romantic comedy by Lucky Day Studios, tentatively titled “AugustFall In Love,” will be filmed in Midway, using the city's real name, Vandegrift said. He said after the meeting that the movie will air on the Hallmark Channel and shooting is to start around Oct. 31.

Sidewalks: Vandegrift said the city will advertise this fall for residents who want their sidewalks fixed. Last year the city began a program to pay up to $1,000 for a property’s sidewalk repairs. The sidewalks will be fixed in the spring, he said.