Friday, February 28, 2020

Bradleys reflect with a writer friend on their 41 years at the local grocery, "the community 'hub' of Midway"

Chuck, Scott and Shirley Bradley posed in front of the Midway Corner Grocery after Scott sold it. (Photo provided)
By Renee Head

To a small, historic town named Midway in the year 1979 came a strong, dedicated family: Chuck and Shirley Bradley and their three sons and two young daughters.

What brought this family from Los Angeles to a tight-knit community, wondering how they would be accepted? It was a desire for a safer place to raise their family and a need to help Chuck’s mother care for his grandmother, who was nearing 100.

Chuck had left the Lexington area when he was a young man and hitchhiked his way to Los Angeles! He spent his life in the trucking business. He left his job as terminal manager of the Santa Fe Trucking Co., a subsidiary of the Santa Fe Railroad. Shirley was a hairdresser.

Their family has become a cornerstone in Midway! They owned and operated the Midway Corner Grocery for 41 years. Their quiet children worked behind the cash registers and in the deli, and grew up in the store.

They told them it couldn't be done

Chuck and Shirley have many stories to tell of how God was involved in their move. His guiding eye was directing and protecting their every step. The long drive across our country found them in a terrible snowstorm; it was 5 below and they got a foot of snow. They had to stop every 10 minutes to clean the windshield wipers and headlights. Their steering on the vehicle was not working properly. They managed to get their family of seven safely to Kentucky to live with his mother and grandmother until he could get a job.

The only job he could find wanted him to move to Texas! One day he saw a very small ad in the Lexington Herald-Leader: “Grocery store for sale,” and a phone number. When he called, the Realtor turned out to be his Mom and Dad’s Sunday-school teacher, Bob McCray. He went to look at the store and told McCray he could not afford it. McCray told him there were some creative ways to get a loan. So they did, at 23% interest! That was in 1979, just before a recession.

They had no experience in the grocery business, but they gave it their best. They were in the store day and night, seven days a week. They opened at 6 a.m. and closed at 10 p.m. They stocked the store to the ceilings and greeted every customer. The first thing they did was get rid of the unfavorable magazines. They received letters thanking them for doing that. That’s right, for 41 years they have run a successful grocery store without a dime coming from the unfavorable magazines or beer!

The bankers told them it couldn’t be done! You may wonder how they did it. Well, it was being there for their customers. They started charge accounts, and Chuck started delivering groceries to shut-ins. He would often do little repairs for the customers, especially the widows, while he was there. He would start a pilot light on a hot water heater, fix a toilet and so on! Sometimes they would drive their customers home. They even gave their vehicle to a lady who didn’t have a car. One customer didn’t have any hot water and they got her a portable hot water heater so she could have a hot bath.

They heard the true appreciation from their customers, who would thank them and say they were going to pray for them that night. Yes, it was a heart for people that helped them succeed. Families would buy their entire week’s groceries there. One family in Midway had three of their children work at the store. The lady comes in nearly every day. She thanked the Bradleys for teaching them how to work and to be responsible.

They were told they could not succeed without beer. But succeed they did. Their first year, the business more than doubled, and again the second year! And so it goes. A lot of hard work and a caring heart were more valuable!

Part of the community

The Bradleys lived in Scott County, but became a part of the Midway community. He volunteered at the fire department and was invited to teach a class at the Midway Christian Church how to cook a country ham. Another man knew how to make beaten biscuits so they served it up! Chuck was also on the president’s advisory board at Midway College. It was now home!

Their five kids grew up in the store. Each one learned the business. All the guys worked in the meat department and learned to be butchers. Lesley paid her tuition to Pensacola College working summers in the store. But Wendi was the bravest of all. She worked behind the cash registers and would chase down the shoplifters!

When you have been in business as long as they have, there are several stories to tell. Chuck would sometimes restrain the thief until the police came. He even had to stop one guy beating the police with the handcuffs.

If you ever met Chuck Bradley, you felt like you made a friend on the first encounter. They had small business promotions like midnight sales, 99 cents for a half gallon of ice cream, free coffee, chicken for 29 cents a pound, bacon for 99 cents a pound. One time they had an airplane fly over dropping handbills for free doughnuts or $5 cash! They generated a lot of traffic over that. They had contests and gave away a bike at Christmas.

They would have Wildcat days and put blue food coloring in the mayo. Once they had a Wildcat jacket on display. A customer, Mike Perry, would come in. Every time he saw the jacket he would fall in the floor and say someone give me that jacket! This month Chuck had the great pleasure of taking that jacket and giving it to him! Mike was so thankful. It was a great memory!

But maybe the biggest thing is what goes on behind the little screen door. It’s the lunch line! They serve soup and sandwiches. They started with a little skillet that cooked three cheeseburgers, fresh chuck, never frozen! Then they got a griddle, then three. They finally got a commercial grill! They sell hundreds of fresh, juicy cheeseburgers every day. And you must get a country ham sandwich! It is worth the wait in line.

For decades they sold country hams for the holidays, and even sold homemade jam cakes. Now the specialty is deviled eggs with jalapenos! They make six dozen at a time.

They tried for five years to get permission to put in gas pumps, but were always denied. They kept fighting, and in the mid-1980s, the third judge, Circuit Judge Paul Isaacs said, “You guys have given Bradley enough headaches; leave him alone and let him put his gas station in.”

The Bradleys are deep conservatives. Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream made fun of President George W. Bush, by pulling a statue they had made of him saying, “Liar, liar pants on fire.” Chuck took all of his Ben and Jerry’s ice cream out of his store and set it on fire. Ice cream won’t burn, so Chuck Jr. got the Herald-Leader papers to burn it! They thought they had used the proper material, a liberal newspaper. A friend of theirs called a Black Hawk helicopter pilot, who flew over and videoed them burning it. It was shown on CNN.

Moving on

In 2001 Chuck and Shirley sold their business to their son, Scott. At age 10 he had started working behind the cash register. That was hard for him because he was a very quiet kid. He never outgrew being quiet, but he learned the grocery business. Chuck and Shirley actually got to retire for two years, except for doing the country hams at Christmas, but came back and continued as bookkeepers.

Scott and the Bradleys have stepped down from the grocery business. After four decades, it was time to move on. The business was sold Feb. 4, and they wanted to take this time to take you back through the years with them.

Their family started with seven, has grown to 31, and is expected to grow more. They have family in the professional world, military life, ministry, medical field and construction. “We are continuing to grow,” Shirley and Chuck say as they end this journey. “We certainly appreciate all the time with friends, neighbors and customers. We want to extend our thanks to all the people of Woodford and Scott county. We appreciate the 41 years Midway has been friends to us!”

They added, “Scott wants to try something new after 41 years in the grocery business. It remains to be seen what road he takes now. He wants to thank all of his customers in Midway for being so kind to him all these years. We want to give our best wishes to the new owners. May they create the relationships, memories, and continue the community ‘hub’ of Midway, Kentucky.Scott, Chuck and Shirley say, “Thanks to all who entered our doors through the years.”

Renee Head of Lawrenceburg is a friend of the Bradleys, who submitted this story to the Messenger. We thank them for it, and invite other examples of journalism by citizens.

Council Cemetery Committee to discuss pavilion Mon.

The Cemetery and City Property Committee of the Midway City Council will meet at noon Monday, March 2, at City Hall to discuss the pavilion being built in the Midway Cemetery. The notice from City Hall says no action will be taken. All council and committee meetings are open to the public.

City Hall error means some city water bills included a late fee, contrary to mayor's plan to stop charging them

Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift's experiment to no longer charge late fees on city water bills has  had a hiccup, he announced today.

"A clerical mistake resulted in us sending out water bills with the late fee included," Vandegrift said in an email.

Deputy City Clerk Sonya Conner said in an email, "If someone does happen to pay the late fee, it will be a credit on their next month's bill."

Water bills are sent out near the end of each month and are due on the 10th of the following month.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

A tale of two awards for Ouita Michel; the one you've never heard of touched her in a way the other couldn't

Michel and her award (Photo by Hayley Burris)
By Al Cross and Hayley Burris
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The big news for Midway chef Ouita Michel this week was that she received her second semifinalist nomination for national restaurateur of the year in the James Beard Foundation Awards. But earlier in the week, she got another surprise award that in some ways meant more to her.

Girl Scout Troop 2261 of Midway gave Michel its “Women Who Change the World Award” at Monday night's troop meeting in the basement of the Midway Christian Church. Michel had been helping host the monthly community dinner, and was invited to come down and hear the scouts give examples of women who they thought were empowering throughout history.

As Michel watched, not knowing she was about to serve as an example, each scout presented a poster and read a speech about the person, and provided a food item to go along with it. Women presented included Hellen Keller, Cleopatra and Amelia Earhart.

"There was no way I was capable of that at eight years old," Michel, who was a national-champion debater at the University of Kentucky, said afterward.

Michel listens to the scouts. (Photo by Hayley Burris)
Then each scout made brief remarks saying what they liked about Michel, and "I started crying," she recalled.

Michel told the scouts, “I think this is the nicest award anyone has ever given to me, girls. After listening to your presentations and seeing how well all of you did and all the work you put in, I am really honored.”

The troop said it chose Michel due to her involvement within the Midway community, her skills in building her brand throughout her career, and her overall way of showing how empowering women can be.

"It was the sweetest damn thing I’ve ever been a part of, it was so amazing," Michel said Thursday. "That totally just set the stage" for Wednesday's news that she was one of 20 semifinalists for Outstanding Restaurateur.

She was also a semifinalist in 2016, "but to be honest, I didn’t understand the award when I received it, and I was so busy with Honeywood, I didn't stop to fully appreciate all that it meant," she said. "I didn’t think I would ever get nominated in that category again."

But it may have been the opening of Honeywood, in the Summit at Fritz Farm in Lexington, that got her another nomination. The restaurant is named for Honeywood Parrish Rouse, whose family owned Midway's Holly Hill Inn, which Michel and her husband Chris bought 20 years ago.

The inn was the start of the Ouita Michel Family of Restaurants, which also includes the nearby Midway Bakery & Cafe and Wallace Station Deli, and these Lexington operations: Windy Corner Market and Smithtown SeafoodZim’s Cafe and Thirsty Fox in the old Fayette County Courthouse; and Holly Hill Events, based at Fasig-Tipton Co. on Newtown Pike. The company also operates Glenn’s Creek CafĂ© at Woodford Reserve Distillery, where Michel is chef-in-residence.

Michel's business success and her leadership in the local-food movement led to five nominations for Best Chef in America (Southeast) in the James Beard Foundation awards.

Nominees for Outstanding Restaurateur are recognized for "high national standards in restaurant operations and entrepreneurship," a company news release said. Candidates must have been in the restaurant business for at least 10 years. Finalists will be announced in March; winners will be announced at the foundation’s annual gala in Chicago in May.

"I really think a lot of the James Beard Foundation," said Michel, who is a member. "They have done so much to reach out to chefs all across the country," educating them about "food waste, ocean sustainabilty, food access, hunger" and other issues, "trying to make advocates of chefs."

Michel said it was at a JBF anniversary boot camp in Vermont four years ago that she met some of the female chefs who will be part of the fourth Food Equity and Access Sustains Tomorrow event March 10 at Fasig-Tipton, to benefit FoodChain, a Lexington nonprofit that educates the public about urban indoor agricultural food production and processing through demonstration and hands-on training, including teaching children how to cook.

"That’s how FEAST came about," she said. "After the 2016 presidential election we all felt so dispirited that I felt like I needed to do something." The last FEAST event raised $60,000, she said, and "I think we'll raise a little more this year . . . for their kitchen, for their grocery store, for their vision of food access and reducing food waste."
Afterward, Michel posed with Girl Scout Troop 2261. (Photo by Hayley Burris; for a larger version, click on it.)

Music star Sturgill Simpson returns to Woodford Co.

Miles Miller gives Sturgill Simpson a thumbs-up as Judge-Executive James Kay and Mayor Grayson Vandegrift applaud. 
This story, first posted before the event, has been reposted and updated to include news at the event.

Woodford County High School alumnus John Sturgill Simpson now goes by his middle name, and it's a name that has become globally famous for his singing and songwriting. He came to Versailles for a public welcome-home ceremony and a special honor Thursday morning.

At the fire station on Big Sink Road, the road received the additional name of Sturgill Simpson Way, from Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott and Woodford County Judge-Executive James Kay.

Simpson said the honor was ironic: "I can't tell you how many mailboxes I smashed on Big Sink Pike in high school."

Miles Miller, a Woodford native who is the drummer in Simpson's band, was also recognized.

“Woodford County is excited to welcome home and recognize Sturgill Simpson and Miles Miller before their Good Lookin’ Tour show at Rupp Arena,” Kay said in a press release. “We are so proud of their success and accomplishments, representing Kentucky and Woodford County.”

Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift took part in the event. He wrote afterward, "I was talking about how music has such an ability to move people and used my friend as an example: My friend said he saw Sturgill play in a Lexington bar a few years back and was apparently having too much fun because he was approached by Mr. Simpson’s security who said to 'please stop dancing'."
Simpson, a native of Jackson, Ky., won a 2017 Grammy Award for Best Country Album for A Sailor's Guide to Earth, which was also nominated for Album of the Year. It won Album of the Year in the Americana Music Awards, where he was also nominated for Artist of the Year and his "All Around You" was nominated for Song of the Year. In 2015 his song "Turtles All the Way Down" won Americana Song of the Year and his Metamodern Sounds in Country Music received a Grammy nomination for Best Americana Album. His 2019 album Sound and Fury made Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 50 Albums list.

Midway Renaissance revives Greenspace Committee, plans for Francisco's Farm Art Fair June 13-14

The annual general membership meeting followed the monthly dinner at Midway Christian Church. (Photo by Hayley Burris)
By Lauren McCally
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Midway Renaissance announced the revival of its Greenspace Committee at the group’s annual general membership meeting Monday night. The meeting followed the monthly community dinner at Midway Christian Church, which featured leftovers from the church’s Epiphany dinner.

Greenspace was the first committee of Midway Renaissance, but went dormant in 2013, said Debra Shockley, the secretary of Midway Renaissance. “Something that’s exciting is that Greenspace is coming back,” she said, “but in a totally different integration.”

When the committee started, “Some of the things that they worked on were to remove invasive species, they planted trees, established rain guards, and a lot of other things that helped preserve and protect our environment,” Stacy Thurman, a Greenspace and City Council member, told Renaissance members.

The idea to bring this committee back came from Marcie Christensen, who wanted to help educate Midway residents and work with the city government and other organizations to teach more sustainable ways for Midway to do things.

Debra Shockley is secretary of Renaissance. (Photo by Hayley Burris)
Shockley said after the meeting that the committee’s current mission differs from the old one because that sort of work is done by the city’s Parks Board, Friends of Walter Bradley Park and other volunteers who “do the trails and the bridges” in the park.

The Greenspace Committee is “going to have educational classes, maybe seminars and stuff up at the library,” Shockley said. “They are not actually going to be working in the park. . . . This Greenspace incarnation will focus on sustainability.”

Greenspace is planning educational projects for the community and Northside Elementary, which will teach appropriate recycling techniques, community composting, and care of street trees.

“We are open to any ideas that people have or projects … here in Midway, ” Thurman said. “We welcome anybody that wants to get involved in the Greenspace Committee.”

Greenspace holds monthly meetings on the first Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Midway Library. If you would like to join the committee, attend a meeting, share an idea or learn more about certain projects, contact Marcie Christensen via Facebook or Thurman at the library, which she manages.

Another committee mentioned during the meeting was Living History. “Living History is one of the most active committees,” said Shockley. “They do so many projects.” Some include a big sign about bourbon history by The Brown Barrel and a lot of older pictures of buildings downtown, which have been put up with information such as who owned them and what year they were built.

Planning for the June 13-14 Francisco’s Farm Art Fair, which Shockley said is Renaissance’s “primary source of income,” is going very well, event coordinator Elisha Holt told the members. “We have about 67 artists who have applied” to exhibit, she said; the deadline is March 1 and the jury will notify exhibitors by March 31.

The fair will be held at Midway University but there will also be a small block party downtown with a musical event on the evening of Saturday, June 13.

To help advertise the art fair, Renaissance will provide yard signs to contributors. Those who give $25 will receive a sign saying “Friends of Francisco’s Farm Art Fair, Midway University, June 13-14,” to put in their front yard; $100 givers will be designated friends of the art fair, and get a sign; $500 givers will be sponsors, with their name or logo on signs at the event, in the fair map and on the website. Donations need to be sent by May 1, so the committee can print the signs and distribute them.

The Renaissance board will have a workshop and strategic planning review Sunday, March 1, from 2 to 4 p.m. in the library conference room, and anyone is welcome to attend. The board has room for four more members, who serve three-year terms.

The next general meeting of Renaissance is scheduled for Thursday, March 5 at 6 p.m. in the second floor community room of the Rau Building (City Hall). Anyone is welcome to attend and the officers for 2020 will be elected.  Membership in Renaissance is $10 per person or 10 food items.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Message from the mayor: New internet, phone and TV provider will soon start running lines all over town

"Anyone with a small sign in their yard can expect subcontractors for MetroNet to be doing some form of construction through the utility easement that they also have access to," Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift says in his Message from the Mayor.
By Grayson Vandegrift
Mayor, City of Midway

MetroNet will soon begin the construction phase of installing high speed fiber optic cable to every home in Midway. When this is done, each citizen will have a new option for cable, internet, and phone access.

However, I want to make each of you aware that I expect this phase to have a few bumps, and I think the better prepared we are the smoother we can make it. Where utility poles exist, MetroNet will be running their cable along those poles, but each property in town will also have a fiber optic line running into their yard, and that will still require a small ditch in many yards. Neighborhoods with buried utilities will have everything run underground, and many yards, if not most, will have a ditch as well. All ditches will be patched with seed and straw and will eventually be good as new, but I do expect that not everyone will be in love with the process.

But, in the end, this will provide more options, and competition means better services for our citizens. Anyone with a small sign in their yard can expect subcontractors for MetroNet to be doing some form of construction through the utility easement that they also have access to. This means that employees will be legally allowed to enter premises so long as they’re on that easement, in order to complete their work. As jarring as it sounds, employees can enter a back yard with a privacy fence, but again, only to bury their cable along the easement.

I’ve been in close contact with Kris Smith, the governmental affairs liaison with MetroNet, and with their construction team, and they’ve committed to us that they’ll do their utmost to make this construction phase as smooth as possible.

This can be a difficult process, and it’s possible that other lines could be inadvertently hit, temporarily disrupting service. Although we hope that doesn’t happen, it’s something everyone should be prepared for. MetroNet has repeatedly assured that they will do everything to solve any situation as quickly as possible. The small yard signs in resident’s yards give a phone number they can call anytime to address concerns.

I’m confident that once the fiber optic is in place, this will be a great improvement for the city and for our citizens. Recent studies have shown that having fiber optic cable directly to one’s home, even if the current occupant doesn’t use it, can raise the home’s value as much as 3%. Anecdotally, in a world where streaming is becoming the norm, I believe these studies to be very plausible in their findings.

The direct number for MetroNet, posted on their yard signs, is 877-386-3876. Folks can also visit MetroNetInc.com/construction for more information.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Renaissance annual membership meeting is tonight

The annual membership meeting of Midway Renaissance will be held tonight after the monthly community dinner at Midway Christian Church, probably around 7:15 p.m. The presentation will include a brief historical overview of Renaissance and upcoming activities. Dues for 2020 are $10 or 10 canned goods.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Steele Road to be closed Wednesday, Feb. 26, between Old Frankfort Pike and US 60 for pipe replacement

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet;s district office announced Thursday that Steele Road (KY 1685) will close most of the daylight hours next Wednesday, Feb. 26, "for pipe replacement operations." The closure is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The closure will be at milepoint 7.2, between fire gates 1 and 2. District spokeswoman Natasha Lacy said that is closer to Old Frankfort Pike than US 60. "All work, and closures are scheduled on a tentative basis, and subject to change depending on weather, emergencies, and other factors beyond the control of the Department of Highways," her news release said.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Disease that threatens foals worries horse industry; 12 cases have been found in Woodford County (updated)

Chart from University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory; the current total for 2020 is 121.
This story has been updated to include numbers as of March 7, and corrected monthly numbers.
By Hayley Burris
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media
               The horse industry in the Bluegrass is worried about a higher-than-usual number of Thoroughbred mares with a disease that threatens their foals.
               Nocardioform placentitis is a bacterial infection that causes separation of the placenta, keeping oxygen and nutrients from the fetus and causing it to be aborted, born dead or underdeveloped.
               This foaling season, 102 121 cases have been identified by the University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory: 76 91 in Fayette County, eight 10 12 each in Woodford and Bourbon counties, two each three in Scott and, two in Harrison, and one in Shelby. Not all the cases involve Thoroughbreds.
               In only five three years since 1991 have the numbers been higher than the number of cases already reported during this foaling season. Other spikes occurred in 1998, 1999, 2003, 2011 and 2017. (See chart.) The highest number, 328 cases, was in 2011. In 2017, 132 cases were identified.
               The number of cases typically peaks before the foaling season peaks, and that seems to be the case this season. In December and January, respectively, there were 28 16 and 57 40 cases. So far this month, there have been 14, and if that rate continued, the month’s total would be 21. In February, there were 61 cases, but only one so far in March.
               The eight Woodford County cases so far through Feb. 19 were have been one abortion, six stillborn foals, and one placenta that was confirmed with the bacteria that cause the disease.
               The Midway Messenger was unable to identify any particular Woodford County farms with cases of the disease. Two of the large farms that were contacted declined to make immediate comment; another said it had no cases. So did one small farm.
               “Analysis of affected farms indicates larger farms with more pregnant mares and higher stocking densities are at great risk,” said Jackie Smith, an assistant professor of veterinary science at UK. “Preliminary data indicate that mares that spend more time in the barns are at risk of developing the disease; increased grazing times appear protective.”
               Smith also said in the interview, “We really don’t know how nocardioform gets into the mares in the first place.”
               To help find an answer, the foundation that supports the Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center at UK recently released extra emergency funding of $132,000 for research on the disease. The money comes from an endowment created to address such emergencies.
               More nocardiform cases are reported from Kentucky for at least two reasons. First, the state has around 9,000 Thoroughbred foals a year, about 40 percent of the foal crop. Second, the state has “highly tuned equine-health surveillance mechanisms” that catch cases, said a UK news release about the university’s response to the outbreak. UK scientists publish every case they identify, while other states may not due to their smaller populations of horses.
               Of the 75 cases identified this season, 14 were from placentas submitted for testing and 61 were foals assumed to be aborted.  The number only includes finalized cases and not any ongoing or pending.  It also does not include unreported cases, such as foals that survived, or cases that were diagnosed elsewhere than the UK lab.
               Also, some small farms may not ask for tests because of the cost. Testing a placenta at the lab costs $100, and the fee for a post-mortem examination is $175.
               UK is starting to provide test kits for veterinarians to use on farms to help them monitor mares in foal.  Veterinarians enroll mares that they think may have the disease, and a mare on the same farm is also tested, as a control for research purposes.
               UK scientists say mares should be constantly checked throughout pregnancy and evaluated after giving birth.
               The UK news release said, “This is an extremely complicated disease, primarily because there does not seem to be a simple causative relationship between the pathogen(s) and the condition. Another contributing factor is that identification of affected mares is difficult and often delayed,” so harm is often done before a case is identified.

Mayor proposes budget that would reduce big surplus by spending to fix sewer lines and build more sidewalks

By Anna McAndrew and Lauren McCally
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media
               “Our surplus right now is enormous,” Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said Monday evening as he offered the City Council a 2020-21 budget that would reduce the surplus by fixing sewer lines and building new sidewalks.
               Vandegrift said the surplus is “three times bigger than the average” of a U.S. city in terms of months of revenue – a year’s worth rather than four months’ worth. Spending on the infrastructure projects, mainly sewers, will “bring the surplus down to two times bigger than the average, which means eight months’ worth of money instead of one year,” he said. 
             The current surplus is about $1.1 million. The projected surplus is about $900,000 mainly because about $150,000 would be spent fixing sewer lines on the east side of town and $75,000 is budgeted for sidewalks -- $25,000 of which would go to cost-sharing that the city is already doing with property owners.
             The rest would build a sidewalk on the Midway University side of Stephens Street to the entrance to the Homeplace at Midway. Some of the $75,000 is contingent upon a grant. There are so many grants available for sidewalks, Vandegrift said, “I don’t think we should construct any new sidewalks without one.”
              The city has amassed a surplus largely on occupational-tax income from the Lakeshore Learning Materials distribution center in Midway Station and other business expansions.
              In the current fiscal year, the tax was budgeted to generate $650,000, but the mayor said the city is on track to collect $832,000. His proposed budget for next year estimates $825,000. “Most of our revenue numbers are done conservatively,” he said.
               This is the main source of money for the city, about 45 percent of the predicted income total. The proposed budget predicts increases in most other forms of revenue, such as property tax, business licenses, alcohol licenses and franchise fees.
               The surge in occupational tax led the city to cut property taxes more than 30 percent in the last two years. Asked after the meeting if another property-tax cut is in the offing, Vandegrift said, “Maybe that’s coming down the pike, too. It’s possible; there’s been some discussion.” But he added, “People seem happy so you don’t want to do it too much.”
               The mayor plans to hold budget workshops with the council, probably in the next two weeks, to agree on the budget before putting it into an ordinance. “This is something we are going to work on as we always do,” he said. 
               The city has about $290,000 in certificates of deposit that mature this year, starting next week. Noting that the highest interest rate on the three CDs is 0.93 percent, he named three council members -- Sarah Hicks, Logan Nance and John Holloway, as a committee to look at investment alternatives, with Nance as chair.
               Vandegrift announced that the $10,000 grant for a stage in the park, which the city recently gave up, is being held for it by the Bluegrass Community Fund. “They believe that it is such a worthy project that they are going to hold the funds indefinitely while we figure out how to pay for that project,” he said.
               The city gave up the grant after the Parks Board said it didn’t have the additional resources to do the project. Holloway, who is also the unpaid park manager, said last month that some merchants didn’t like the idea because it would create an alternative entertainment venue to Main Street.
               The council approved permits for two events: Race Rise, a 5K run on May 9 to raise money for a nonprofit veterans group that uses equine therapy for mental health, in conjunction with Mental Heath Awareness Month; and a Family Fun Festival to be held in Walter Bradley Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 30.
                The festival will be an event for families and will include face painting, rock painting, and pine cone feeders, organizers said, adding that they plan on generating only one cubic feet of waste that cannot be recycled.

Monday, February 17, 2020

City hangs model of vulture to keep others from roosting

The City of Midway is trying another tactic to reduce the number of vultures that roost in the town, especially in evergreen groves in the winter. Meet Fred the vulture.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift with Fred
Fred, a model of a red-headed turkey vulture, was hung upside down in a tall tree northwest of the intersection of Winter and Bruen streets early Monday afternoon, in the hope that the apparent carcass will dissuade vultures who, ironically, subsist on carcasses of other animals.

Marcus Stewart of Art's Electric, from Frankfort, used copper wire to hang Fred in the yard of a homeowner who wanted to remain nameless but said her child is unable to play in the yard due to vulture droppings.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said the city bought Fred on the advice of the U.S. Department of Agriculture for $120 and would pay Art's $50 for hanging him. He said Fred amounts to a relatively inexpensive experiment that could be be repeated elsewhere if it proves successful.

To enlarge either photo, click on it.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Chocolate Stroll, in seventh year, had record turnout

The annual Chocolate Stroll, which kicks off the Midway Business Association's long list of downtown events each year, had a record turnout, reports Jo'Tessa Townes of the University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

County inspector condemns long-vacant historic building; owner has 20 days to appeal, 30 to fix up

116 E. Main St. once housed an African American men's organization.
By Midway Messenger staff
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The Woodford County building inspector has condemned the old, long-vacant Odd Fellows lodge at 116 E. Main St., at the suggestion of Mayor Grayson Vandegrift, the mayor announced today.

The building's owner, Ness Alamdari of Lexington, will have 20 days to appeal to the county Planning and Zoning Commission. Alamdari did not respond immediately to a phone call and voicemail seeking comment.

The letter from Building Inspector Joshua Stevens to Alamdari cited 10 issues and gave him 30 days to correct them and "obtain a letter from a licensed Kentucky engineer certifying that the structure of the building is not in danger of collapse and does not pose a threat to public safety. If an engineer letter is not obtained and a building permit not obtained for the above listed corrections, an order of demolition will be needed."

Vandegrift said in an email to the City Council and the news media that he asked Stevens several months ago to thoroughly inspect the building and consider condemnation.

“My paramount concern was the building's deteriorated condition and the safety threats it poses to the public,” he wrote. “Large metal items, some quite heavy, have already fallen from the structure to the sidewalk below. The building has also become a haven for rodents and is an attractive, and therefore dangerous, nuisance to children as well.”

The mayor told the Messenger in another email, “If the owner continues non-cooperation with the city, and I hope he decides to work with us, we would take any and all measures to make sure the order by Mr. Stevens is carried out. I’d much rather be in this position than talking to someone with a microphone and a camera about a serious injury sustained in downtown Midway.”

If Alamdari does not appeal, and doesn't demolish the building, the city can do the work and place a lien against the property to recover its costs. Alamdari also faces a fine of $25 to $100 per day for each of the 10 violations.

Vandegrift said he would take no pleasure in seeing an historic structure be torn down, but “I have been inside the building and like so many others have watched as time and weather continue to deteriorate it, and I came to believe that condemnation is the only solution.”

The building, which dates to 1898, was built by the Pilgrim Lodge, an African American men's organization.

Bill Penn, a historian who has a gift shop a few doors down from the building, told the Messenger, “I’d rather it be restored, but . . . if the owner isn’t going to restore it, it’s called demolition by neglect.” He added, “I’m disappointed it can’t be saved, but I understand the situation.”

Still, in a way, the old building with the peaked roof in front will be missed. “When a train comes into town from the east, that’s the first thing you see [from it], so it’ll be a gap,” Penn said. He said the building's last occupant was an antique clothing store, 15 to 20 years ago.

The building is one of the most prominent examples of blighted property in Midway, due to its downtown location and severe condition.

This is the first condemnation order issued since 2013, and the first following the City Council's recent creation of the Code Enforcement Board, to which the city could take the matter if the Planning Commission ruled against its own building inspector.

Asked why he didn't wait until the city has its own code enforcement officer, who will soon give the board cases to handle, Vandegrift said, “I’ve been so worried about this causing serious injury that I decided to take a 'try everything' approach, which started with private conversations with the owner. When I wrote the letter requesting condemnation be considered, I didn’t yet know if our new ordinances would be successful, but figured if they were passed and we didn’t succeed in this route with the building inspector then we’d have a Plan B.”

He said Stevens “did a thing that is not easy to do, both technically and demonstratively, but he did the right thing, and I hope this sends a message to others that we want to work with you on getting your properties in order. We’re sending no one to the poor house. But if properties are ignored at the peril of others, we’re serious about taking action.”

Mayor and wife see 'two Midways' that need to talk

By Grayson and Katie Vandegrift

Even though we don’t talk about it much, virtually everyone who lives in our community is aware of the notion of “Old Midway” and “New Midway.” Perhaps not by coincidence, one could argue that Midway is at the same time getting both older and younger; in a word, it’s changing. This can understandably lead to tension, which seems to bubble up to the surface in our public discourse from time to time.

Since its very beginning our city has seen great change, and the citizens who helped lead us through prior times deserve immense recognition and praise. Those who’ve known Midway most or all their lives have a sense of history so important and precious that it is rightfully being preserved in a Midway Branch Library recorded series, in a newly revitalized Museum project, and now on social media sites. Within the last few decades Midway has also welcomed more and more folks who’ve adopted this city as their own. Now it seems that participation from newer citizens in civic leadership and government are at an all-time high in our city and in many other cities across the country.

There are those who feel that they will never be truly welcomed by some because they came here, and there are others who feel that these newcomers, familiar and well-meaning as they are, can never be truly “of” Midway. As dismayed as we’ve sometimes been by certain comments, it’s understandable why some people who were born here feel that the town is now being run by those who were not.

In the world we live in, where information can be shared with a click, it’s undoubtedly easier for it to feel like the spotlight shines on recent accomplishments while the foundations that got us here hide in shadow. It’s no mystery why this could create resentment.

But it could be that there is a fundamental misunderstanding between these “two Midways,” that somehow our interests are not aligned. Both “new” and “old” Midway have at times felt aggrieved by the other, but out of communication comes understanding.

We all want the same things. We all want our city to thrive and prosper. We all want Midway to be a great place to raise our children, to take care of our parents, and to one day be taken care of ourselves. We all want Midway to continue being the greatest town anywhere. While we feel that our city is more united than most, and that we’re working together better than most, it would be willfully ignorant to assume that there are not resentments that need reconciliation.

Regardless of your beliefs or political affiliation, we all know this country is divided. The country is not going to heal itself from the top down, but from the ground up. We have to heal our communities, one by one, as a patchwork, to truly unite this nation once again. Midway has always been a leader. From its very inception as a city until the present day, history shows that Midway, Kentucky, has always been ahead of the curve.

Let’s lead yet again. Let’s talk about what does divide our community; let’s not ignore it or pretend it isn’t there. Let’s heal wounds that have been left untreated. We have so many mechanisms in place already to have good conversations: the post office, the corner grocery, city council meetings, monthly community dinners at Midway Christian Church, and the various other events and gatherings that occur throughout the year. We have to talk to each other face-to-face again, and the easiest way to do that is in our own communities. From there, who knows where the conversation goes, but it’s a good way to be reminded that at the most basic level we’re neighbors, and we agree much more often than not.

Grayson Vandegrift is mayor of Midway; Katie Vandegrift is a marketing and administrative assistant at Commerce Lexington, that city's chamber of commerce.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Sellout crowd hears and sees the history of Holly Hill Inn

Artifacts old and recent were on display, many atop Desdemona "Mama Des" Parrish's quilt. (Click on photo to enlarge.)
Story and photos by Lauren McCally
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media
               Holly Hill Inn celebrated its 20th year under Chef Ouita Michel and her husband, Chris, Saturday morning with an event called “Up Home” about the history of the building that was a home, an inn and now a restaurant.
               “Welcome to Holly Hill Inn,” speaker Bob Rouse told the sellout crowd. “And while you’re here, consider yourself up home,” which Rouse’s father and grandmother often called the place.
               The event began with a lunch by Michel that included Nat’s Naples fish chowder and poached chicken. Dessert was angel food cake with custard and boiled icing. Then guests were able to walk around the dining area and see artifacts that belonged to Rouse and Perry’s great-grandmother. Then everyone went into the main dining room for a presentation on the history of the Inn, talks of ghost sightings, and a little bit of family history from Rouse and his sister, Amy Rouse Perry.
               Holly Hill Inn began as Stevenson’s Tavern, a building closer to Leestown Road. The first post office in the area was established here as Stevenson’s, and was renamed Midway when the town was established in 1837. In the early 1840s, after the tavern burned down, Handcock Davis built the first few sections of the modern layout of what eventually became the Holly Hill Inn.
Bob Rouse and his sister, Amy Rouse Perry, discussed the history of the house.
               “Mr. Davis built, we believe, three rooms facing Leestown Road: the present-day kitchen, dining room, and front entry hall,” Rouse said. “The main entrance would have been on the north side of the house, facing Leestown Road, not where the front door is today,” on the west side.
               Davis sold the building to Squire William A. Moore and his wife Mary in 1854. Moore was the president of the Midway Paper Mill Co. and a magistrate on the Woodford County Fiscal Court.  After he died, she lived in the house until it was sold to Isaac Parrish, officially becoming the Parrish family home, in 1903.
               “Amy and I are part of the sixth generation of Parrishes to live in and around Midway, and we can tell you a lot about the Ike Parrish family that lived here beginning in the early 1900s because their oldest daughter created a rather detailed journal later in her life,” Rouse said. “Now, many families at the turn of the century had similar life experiences. We’re not saying the Parrish family was extraordinary; it’s just our family.”
               The writer of that journal was Honeywood Parrish Rouse. Her first name came from her great-aunt, Adelia Honeywood Bailey, the woman who took in Rouse and Perry’s great-grandmother Desdemona, her brother Jim and sister Katherine “Nat” Parrish when their mother died.
               “Honeywood was our paternal grandmother, who we called Honey. She was a Southern matriarch, community leader, historian, entertainer, and party girl, all rolled into one,” said Rouse. “She was also a stay-at-home writer who penned toast and notes for her neighbors. ”
               The family was known for their happy home and great hospitality. “On any given night, no one would know how many people would be at their supper table until they were about to be seated,” Rouse said. “Visitors came often, and one night stays might stretch into days or even weeks.”
               In 1922, Honeywood Parrish married Howard Rouse and moved into the town of Midway, where she died at the age of 92 in 1990.
                “She never lost sight of her childhood home, especially when she passed it every time  she visited her grandchildren, whose house is on the grounds of the old apple orchard,” Rouse told the crowd.
               In 1979, Isaac Parrish's grandson Ike and his wife Jean converted the home into a “modern country inn,” according to the Holly Hill Inn website.
               It was the year 2000 when the Inn came into the possession of the Michels, by luck. At the time, Rouse was interviewing Ouita for a magazine article about a Lexington restaurant she helped run, Emmett’s on Tates Creek Road.
               Michel and Rouse told the Messenger in 2014 that when he told her, “You must love this place, you’ll never leave it,” she replied, “Well, I do love it, But I’d only ever leave it for the Holly Hill Inn in Midway.”
               What she didn’t know was that Rouse and his family had started talking that very week about needing to sell the inn. They did, and Rouse said in 2014, “I consider that the greatest thing I've ever done for this community.”
               Then Ouita began seeing ghosts, and that provided one of the most interesting parts of the program. Rouse said she saw a vague image of a young man standing at the kitchen door and a face in a window above the kitchen. In 2009, she and Perry had a husband-and-wife team of ghost hunters try to add context to the sightings. The face in the window turned out to be Tom, Jim’s cousin, who used to come and visit.
               Perry recalled that one ghost hunter “spelled out ‘What’s your first name and did you live here?’ They didn’t live here, but they visited here, so we figured that it was Jim’s cousin, who would have visited here.”
               There have been so many real-life visitors to the Inn in the last 20 years that it became the start of Michel’s unique chain of eight restaurants in Lexington and Midway, serving fresh, farm-to-table food. The newest is named Honeywood.

Drone flight over Midway shows the town's old and new

By Dalton Stokes, University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media
(Click on arrows button, to left of Vimeo logo, to view in full-screen mode)

Friday, February 7, 2020

Midway University and Midway have grown closer in recent years, but that hasn't quite extended to students

By Akhira Umar
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Midway University has been around nearly as long as the town that it calls home. Despite their long-standing affiliation, the town and the university are not as intertwined as one might think.

Originally founded as the Kentucky Female Orphan School in 1847, Midway University came into existence shortly after the town’s establishment in 1835 and soon after its incorporation in 1846. The town has kept much of its original charm with quiet neighborhoods and quaint shops but has seen many changes in its businesses, organizations and downtown streetscape.

The university has seen its fair share of change as well, the most notable being its decision to go co-ed in the fall of 2016 to “remain relevant” and “financially viable.” In fall 2019, men made up 39 percent of daytime enrollment. The total enrollment of 1,702 also includes evening and online undergraduates, and graduate students.

Among the 643 daytime undergraduates, 373 lived on campus, said Ellen Gregory, the university’s vice president of marketing and communications.

These daytime students also came from all walks of life, just like the tourists who stop in town. Kentucky natives account for about 70 percent of students, while about 15 percent come from other states and the rest form foreign countries.

The university and Northside Elementary School accounted for nearly
1/3 of city occupational tax of $719,378. (City of Midway chart, adapted)
Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said the university is also responsible for providing the city with over $100,000 a year in payroll taxes. The school is the second largest job provider in town, behind Lakeshore Learning Materials and ahead of American Howa Kentucky Inc.

With such big numbers in a town with a population of fewer than 1,700, one might think it would greatly affect the dynamics of Midway as a whole. But these two entities, the town and the university, long followed different orbits. More recently, they have learned to change for the better together.

Prior to Dr. John P. Marsden becoming the university’s tenth president in 2013, the relationship between the town and school was rocky, according to some city officials. However, in the past six years, this relationship has more than turned itself around.

“I think with a new administration in there, Dr. Marsden’s administration, we were really able to kinda form new bonds,” Vandegrift said. ”They were the ones that really began reaching out to us as a city.”

Vandegrift was on the City Council when Marsden arrived, and was elected mayor the following year. “I think Dr. Marsden and his leadership team have taken on a lot of great initiatives and they’ve included us in all of them,” he said. “They’re also quick to include us and we’re very happy to be included and to participate.”

Some of these initiatives include a 15 percent tuition discount for Midway residents, a decision made in August 2018, and the $30,000 in softball-field renovations that the city and school partnered for in 2017. The university has helped sponsor and participate in several local events like the Midway Fall Festival and Midsummer Nights in Midway.

Sara Hicks, then the president of Midway Renaissance,
and Midway University President John Marsden signed
the contract to move Renaissance's Francisco's Farm
Arts Festival back to the campus. (2013 photo)
One of the best ways the school strengthened connections with the town was bringing the Francisco’s Farm Art Festival back to the campus in 2014. The festival, which began in 2003, is the largest event on which the town collaborates with the university. It is an award-winning, nationally recognized event, drawing thousands of visitors.

When it moved to Equus Run Vineyards three miles east of town in 2011 and remained there for three years, the Midway community felt disconnected to one of its biggest events. When the festival returned to the university, a location many said was more fitting, the community was grateful.

Gregory said the open lines of communication between the leaderships of the town and the school have made for a great relationship. “We see a strong city as good for the university, and we think vice versa—a strong university is good for the city.”

This community involvement has made some residents like librarian Stacy Thurman, who was elected to the City Council last year, even more hopeful about the city’s future. Having moved to Midway 10 years ago, she said one of the things she liked about the town was that people knew each other and did things together, making for a good sense of community.

“It wasn’t until recently that I felt like the university has had more of a presence in town,” Thurman said. “I enjoy seeing the students out and about, but I don’t think that has always been the case. I think for a long time, at least from my perspective, the university was its own little entity, then there was the town, and there wasn’t a whole lot of action.”

Although the university is more involved in community events, many in Midway still wish the students had a stronger presence in the town. The on-campus student population makes up about 20 percent of the university’s enrollment and accounts for nearly 20 percent of Midway’s residential population, yet some residents and business workers say students are rarely seen in town.

Isaac Hughes, a long-time resident of Zion Hill, a largely African American community southeast of Midway, spent much time at the school to watch games or go to parties in the 1960s, even with the racial divide and the school’s population being all women. He continues to visit the university now for its affordable, tasty meals, and says the town and university seem to exist separately.

“It’s almost like you got two separate entities, two separate towns. There’s the university, then there’s the Midway area,” he said, adding that students may have “felt like there was no connection or we didn’t really connect with you all as a community. So, I think there’s a lot that can be gained by both if there’s a connection.”

Cortney Neikirk, president of the Midway Business Association, contrasted Midway and its university with Richmond and Eastern Kentucky University. Richmond’s population is around 35,000 and EKU’s enrollment last year was estimated at 16,612. Such a large school greatly affects traffic, business and everyday life during the school year, but Midway University’s small size does not have that same effect on Midway, she said

Francisco's Farm is held in May, soon after commencement.
“We do not, as residents, notice the university being there … It’s actually super peaceful,” Neikirk said. “The university does not, technically, affect us … It’s nice having them up there because we know we have a university, but it doesn’t filter down into the residential areas. It would be sad not to have the university, but as a resident, I don’t know that I would notice them being gone … It’s not like you have students everywhere.”

Justin Werner, manager of the Goose and Gander restaurant, thinks the lack of student involvement in town comes from a lack of awareness. “A lot of times I don’t think they even realize there’s a town here,” he said. In 2018, “We did an orientation welcoming … and a lot of the students that we talked to said, ‘I didn’t even know there was a Main Street. Where’s the restaurants? Where are these things?’ So, I think that that’s where we fall short is that we don’t get out to the students enough to know what’s going on and, you know, what’s down here.”

This is not to say that the students are completely detached from the town. Everyone interviewed for this story reported nothing but positive interactions with students -- if they had any interactions at all. The students do volunteer at places like Northside Elementary, The Homeplace at Midway and the Woodford County Library. They also visit businesses downtown, just not as often as some people may like or expect.

Gregory said students low profile in town stems from how busy they are with classes, work and sports. But many students, despite liking Midway as a town, said there aren’t enough local options that appeal to them. Examples:

Junior Kwon Evans goes off campus three or four times a week, usually to Lexington, for food and entertainment. Senior Kaleb Britt leaves campus just about every day for his preferred fast food chains, like Raising Cane’s and Taco Bell. Sophomore Jill Enix leaves campus two to five times a week for Frankfort or Georgetown for fast food, shopping and movie theaters. Junior Ally Callahan goes to Versailles or Georgetown just about every day for the same reasons.

All these students lived on campus when they were interviewed last spring, and all of them said they like Midway, the supportive university facility, and the town’s friendly residents. However, if the town had more amenities tailored for them, like cheaper food and more entertainment, they might not leave as often.

“I love the fact that Midway is small, and it is very close to larger cities such as Lexington and Frankfort. I love the Kentucky scenery as well. The small downtown area is a very cute area as well,” Callahan said before adding her critique. “There are only two cheap, chain fast food restaurants here. I think if I could change that and add a couple more options for college students so it would be more convenient than driving 20 minutes to the nearest place, I would.”

The same reasons students living on campus leave town so often are the same reasons other students chose to live off campus. Sophomore Clayton Parks, who lives in Lexington, said Midway just can’t compare to all the things Lexington can offer. Senior Monica Martinez said not only is there much more to do in Lexington, but it’s also more affordable, something that senior Nathan Dodge agreed with.

Affordability is an issue many recognize in Midway. Some businesses like Goose and Gander try to combat this obstacle for students by offering them a 10 percent discount. Railroad Drug and Old Time Soda Fountain hosts a “Milkshake Mission” during finals where students can use vouchers for free milkshakes.

For students who want to live off-campus, Midway has few townhouses or apartments, let alone within a college-friendly budget. But as the university grows, so must housing options. The university recently converted Pinkerton Hall back into a dormitory to meet the student housing demand. While students may not mind commuting for food and entertainment, some like the convenience of living on campus when it comes to getting to classes, practices and games.

Vandegrift has appointed an Affordable Housing Task Force, headed by Thurman, to explore the lack of affordable housing.

The consensus from those interviewed for this story, whether they see plenty of student involvement with the community or not, is that they would always welcome more. That would undoubtedly help the local economy, and the interviewees said it would be nice to see new faces enjoying a historic town.

“I think we would like them to do more, and I don’t mean that as a way to demean what they’re already doing,” Vandegrift said. “I would say it almost as a challenge.”

He put his challenge this way: “We would like to see you all get more involved because, you know, people their age see the world in a really beautiful way and they’ve not been as hardened as the rest of us have yet. And I think we all need to be reminded of that. Experience is vital and all of us learn more, but I think we have to be reminded of the young person in all of us, that we were once like that and we wanted to change the whole world and that it’s good to want to do that. So, I think that that could be a great benefit to all of us and I think that’s true of any college town.”

The combination of having young adults of different experiences from all over the state, country and world make the university a breeding ground for growth. Midway is already a welcoming town thanks to its tourism. But to some, the opportunities the university can bring to town are unmatched and overdue.

Hughes said he wants to see the university more involved in “the way the town and the community is being shaped. With their intellect and their knowledge, it can help change some things. And there’s a lot of change that needs to be made that we, as a community, think don’t need to be changed, but in order for us to keep growing I think we’re gonna have to change into a more positive direction. So maybe we can help each other with that.”

Thursday, February 6, 2020

New owner of Midway Grocery says he wants to meet his customers and find out what they want

New Midway Grocery owner Nik Patel, right, posed with manager Pankil Shah in the produce department.
One of Midway's oldest and most prominent businesses has a new owner. Nikesh "Nik" Patel took over the Midway Grocery from Scott Bradley on Jan.Feb. 4. Bradley didn't respond to a phone call seeking an interview, but Patel spoke with the Messenger today and said he wants to meet Midwegians.

Patel said he has one other store, in Midville, Georgia, a town of 269 that was named for its site between Macon and Savannah. He said he was looking for another store to buy, saw the Midway Grocery advertised for sale, and "When I heard the name, I said, 'I like'."

"I like small towns," he said. "Everybody's helpful; everybody knows each other."

Patel said he formerly owned a store in Hodgenville, which he has leased, and is arranging to buy the lot where the Midway Grocery is located, at a focal point of the town. He said he did not think the Shell station and convenience store that opened near Interstate 64 a little over seven years ago was a threat to his store because they have different clienteles: "That store is on the highway. This is in town."

Because both stores are owned by Indian Americans, and the owners of the Shell store bought the smaller Gulf store across the road a few years ago, some in Midway jumped to the conclusion that they now owned all three stores. Patel said he is not connected to the Shell station's owners.

Patel said he was born in the Indian province of Guajarat 35 years ago, moved with his family to southern New Jersey, and bought the Georgia store in 2008. He said his wife, a teacher, is still in Georgia but he has moved to Lexington with their two children, who are 6 and 4, because he couldn't find an apartment in Midway.

Asked what changes he has in mind for the grocery, Patel said he will extend its hours to 9 p.m., and then to 10 p.m. if business warrants. It now closes at 8 p.m. As for him, he says will be at the store from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m., and wants customers to introduce themselves: "I like to know the customers."

What about possible changes in the grocery's stock? "I'd like to know what customers need," he said. He said they can even call his cell, and authorized publication of the number: 609-670-2192.

Business Association lays plans for a year of events, starting with Chocolate Stroll from 11 to 5 on Saturday

By Lauren McCally
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media
               The Midway Business Association had plenty to talk about at its monthly meeting Wednesday, with Saturday’s Chocolate Stroll kicking off a long list of events planned this year.
               Members also discussed the possibility of using the MBA’s growing bank account to help others, such as Midway Renaissance and Northside Elementary, with advertising for events. They also discussed the fall festival, the possibility of an RJ Corman Railroad dinner train stopping in Midway, and potential solutions for downtown parking.
               Besides the Chocolate Stroll, which will held Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the MBA also discussed a St. Patrick’s Day event, movies in the courtyard and many other events scheduled throughout the year.
               The St. Patrick’s Day event is set for Saturday, March 14, from 2 to 6 p.m. with vendors and a band, but no parade as in recent years, President Cortney Neikirk said. It will feature a blessing of the keg and a leprechaun.
                At their last meeting MBA members discussed a possible dinner train stop. One member said Corman executive Noel Rush, who handles a lot of the railroad’s community bookings, told her that he would think about what the MBA was trying to do.
               Elisha Holt, coordinator of the fall festival and other events, said local merchants who want to participate in the festival Sept. 19-20 “do not fill out the application online because in order to get the discount they need to do a paper one, since there are no discounted applications on the digital one.” Those need to be filled out by June 30.
               Although applications typically go out around Feb. 10, Holt said they were sent out before the first of January, and 29 vendors had already accepted, all of which are return vendors. Fall festival meetings will start being held in March. Holt mentioned that Country Boy Brewing would sponsor the festival stage again.
               Neikirk said the fall festival account has grown to $42,000, following profits of $38,500 last year, and the association has almost $13,000 in other accounts.
               She said the MBA will use some of that money to help Renaissance advertise its three Midsummer Nights in Midway, which have been scheduled cooperatively. “Their events help us, so we’re going to advertise for them,” she said.
               Renaissance members staff City Hall during weekend events to make public restrooms available, and the group does an annual Midway Heritage Day in the fall that the MBA makes part of its events schedule.
               Neikirk said the MBA could cooperate with other groups that hold events, such as Northside Elementary School. “It gets us all connected with each other,” she said.
               Holt said events have also been scheduled in cooperation with Versailles businesses. “We are trying to play very nicely with Versailles,” she said, noting that every summer weekend will have some sort of event in Woodford County.
               The final topic at the meeting was shortage of parking, especially for employees of restaurants and shops. Neikirk said she has talked to the restaurants and is trying to help them find a place for their employees to park somewhere other than the Main Street area.
                “You see people drive through, and there’s nowhere to park, and you watch them drive right out of town,” Neikirk said. “And that’s the thing, nobody’s going to park at Wallace Station to walk downtown.”
               Neikirk proposed that restaurant owners come together to see if a local church would be willing to rent its parking lot every day but Sunday for use of the employees, but said she is unsure if that will happen.