Friday, December 3, 2021

Citizens' group asks adjustment board to delay resort's request for private sewer plant until state approves it

Revised plan shows wastewater-treatment plant at upper left, and detail of two types of RV sites. For a larger image, click on it.

The citizens' group opposing the proposed recreational-vehicle resort on South Elkhorn Creek is asking the Woodford County Board of Adjustment to delay the resort's application to let it treat its own sewage until the state gives "at least advance preliminary approval" for a package treatment plant.

Kentucky Bluegrass Experience Resort filed the application after the Midway City Council unanimously refused to let it use the city sewer system. The board has scheduled a public hearing on the application for its next meeting, set for 6:30 p.m. Monday at the courthouse in Versailles.

Midway Concerned Citizens told the board in a letter today that it should not consider the application until the state Division of Water approves a wastewater treatment plant that can treat 90,000 gallons of sewage a day. The city's treatment plant has a capacity of 750,000 gallons a day.

The letter from Lexington attorney Joe Childers says the water division "will not be able to approve" a permit because state regulations require sewage-plant applicants to "demonstrate the socioeconomic need for the project which justifies the necessity of lowering local water quality to accommodate important economic or social development in the area where the water is located. KBER has not demonstrated the socioeconomic need for this project as required by this regulation."

Also, the letter says "package plants . . . are often neglected and not properly maintained by private developers," that such a plant would degrade the creek, and that the water division "will likely conclude that this project is too large for a privately operated wastewater package plant." 

The letter says KBER is trying to put the Board of Adjustment "in the middle of this controversial project by sidestepping important conditions that you in good faith believed were necessary for approval of the conditional use permit" to operate a tourism destination in an agricultural zone, and asks that the board "take into account the overwhelming opposition to this RV park . . . The public does not want this facility in Midway even if it is connected to a city public sewer service."

Midway Concerned Citizens does not oppose KBER's other request, to buy water from Kentucky American Water Co., the city's wholesale supplier. One condition of the permit issued in May is that "All campsites and facilities shall have City public water and sewer." 

The group says it asked KBER to delay its application until it provides "detailed plans for the type of wastewater treatment plant they are proposing" at a public meeting. "The developers have refused both the request to delay their application and to provide details of the proposal to the public. Transparency is sorely lacking."

Hank Graddy of Midway, attorney for KBER, said in an interview that he called Childers about 10 days ago to ask for a meeting to go over details of the package plant "and he refused to meet with us." He said Childers called Thanksgiving evening asking for a postponement of the hearing, which Graddy said he rejected because Childers and his clients had refused to meet.

Graddy said KBER will have its engineer and a manufacturer's representative at the meeting to discuss the technology of the plant, which will have a capacity of about 100,000 gallons a day.

Childers' letter says KBER "is asking this board to approve a change to the condition of 'city public sewer' to a private package plant without knowing any details as to how that package plant will be constructed, operated, or maintained. You should refuse to approve this change blindly, without the benefit of at least advance preliminary approval" from the state "of the developers’ plan to construct, operate, and maintain the package plant in such a way as to protect important water features in the area."

Comments at the public hearing will be limited to three minutes, per board policy, and written comments will be accepted until the meeting.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Bluegrass Distillers rolling out five 'experimental' rye whiskies under Midway Distilling Co. brand next week

Midway Rye whiskies on railroad tracks (Photo provided by Bluegrass Distillers; click on it to enlarge.)

Bluegrass Distillers, which is awaiting state archaeological approval to build a new craft distillery on land recently annexed by Midway, says it is rolling out a line of "experimental" short-aged rye whiskies under the label Midway Distilling Co. and hopes to have them stocked in town next week.

“We are so excited to introduce Midway Distilling Co. to complement our core Bluegrass Distillers line of premium Kentucky bourbons,” Bluegrass co-owner Ben Franzini said in a news release. “We hope you enjoy these experimental rye whiskeys as much as we have enjoyed creating them this past year. They are complex and delicious. This new brand allowed us to explore new and exciting flavor profiles and tell stories of the rich history of Bluegrass Distillers’ new home, Midway, Kentucky.”

Logo for brand of rye whiskies; click to enlarge
The original Midway Distilling Co. was founded in 1916 at the northeast corner of Dudley and Gratz streets (an address used to name one of the new whiskeys). After Prohibition began in 1920, it was sold as medicinal whiskey until 1924, when a fire destroyed the plant and inventory.

The first batch of Midway Distilling products are rye whiskies with secondary finishes applied in aging of one to three months: rum barrels, Sauternes barrels, vermouth barrels, toasted French oak and recharred oak. Bluegrass is working with its distributor "to get it into the bars and restaurants in the area by next Friday," when it will hold a rollout event at City Hall, said Maggie Young, a spokeswoman for the distiller. More information is at midwaydistilling.com, Facebook @MidwayDistillingCo and Instagram @midwaydistilling.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Midway University dedicates welcome center in newly renovated building, concluding fund-raising campaign

Wide-angle photo of Ann J. Bowling Welcome Center in recently renovated Marrs Hall (Midway University photo)

Midway University recently held a ribbon-cutting and dedication for the Ann J. Bowling Welcome Center in the school's newly renovated Marrs Hall, the last of several projects made possible by a recent fund-raising campaign.

"The Welcome Center is the first stop for prospective students and their families when visiting campus and serves as a one-stop shop for information related to the offices of Admissions, Business, and Financial Aid," the university said in a press release. "Marrs Hall also includes many other administrative offices and meeting rooms."

University President John P. Marsden recognized three women – Trustee Janet Hunter, Trustee Emerita Ann J. Bowling, and Trustee Belinda Bowling Metzger – who played key roles in the university's recent expansion and recently completed Campaign of Opportunities. Hunter inspired the campaign with a lead gift and provided funds to renovate Marrs Hall. She named the welcome center for Bowling, with whom she had served on the Board of Trustees. Bowling's daughter, Belinda Metzger, co-chaired the campaign with Hunter, and the Bowling family also generously supported it, the release said.

Ann Bowling became a trustee in 1997 after the death of her husband, James Bowling, who had served on the board for 35 years. Metzger, their daughter, was elected a trustee 2012. Hunter has been on the board since 2000.

The Campaign of Opportunities funded several other improvements:
  • Construction of Hunter Field House
  • Construction of the Tracy Farmer-Don Ball Stadium and Dick Robinson Field
  • Renovation and conversion of Pinkerton Hall to residential housing
  • Renovation of Belle Wisdom Residence Hall bathrooms

“As proud as we are to celebrate all the new and improved facilities, the most important item to note is that we covered all projects without incurring any new debt for the university,” Marsden said.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Council cancels Dec. 6 meeting to avoid conflict with Board of Adjustment meeting on RV resort's latest move

The Midway City Council voted this evening to not hold a regular meeting Dec. 6, to avoid conflict with a Woodford County Board of Adjustment meeting on the proposed recreational-vehicle resort's request to let it have its own sewage-treatment plant and buy water from Kentucky American Water Co.

The council normally meets at 5:30 p.m. on first and third Mondays, and the Board of Adjustment is scheduled to meet at 6:30 at the courthouse in Versailles. The board will take oral comments of up to three minutes per speaker, and written comments before the meeting.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said the city's ordinance on council meetings doesn't allow a regular meeting to be moved to a different day, and scheduling a special meeting is problematic because discussion at such meetings is limited to the agenda for the meeting. Thus, he said earlier, the council couldn't discuss the resort developer's application tonight.

Vandegrift said the meeting could be held earlier on Dec. 6, and mentioned 5 p.m. as an alternative, but said Council Member Sara Hicks "felt like that wasn't a very good idea." Hicks did not attend the meeting, held via Zoom teleconference.

Noting that the council usually cancels its second meeting in December, due to Christmas, Vandegrift suggested that it meet on Dec. 20 but not on Dec. 6. He said he expects the agenda to be short, and that while there is no certainty of that, he has no agenda items yet, and "It's clear right now we're only gonna need one meeting in December."

Council Member Stacy Thurman moved that the council not meet Dec. 6, and meet Dec. 20. The motion passed 5-0.

When the Board of Adjustment granted Kentucky Bluegrass Experience Resort a conditional-use permit to operate a "tourism destination expanded" in an agricultural zone, one of the conditions set was that it must have "City public water and sewer." KBER is asking the board to change the conditions to require use of water from Kentucky American, the city's wholesale water supplier, and sewage treatment by a facility permitted by the state.

The request for a private sewage-treatment plant is likely to be more controversial, since concern about water quality in the creek has been a main concern of those opposed to the project, which would lie in both Woodford and Scott counties, on either side of the creek.

Message from the mayor: Big tree to be lit at 6:30 Fri.

By Grayson Vandegrift
Mayor, City of Midway

Our tree lighting ceremony will take place this Friday at 6:30 p.m. Please join us as we welcome the season, sing some carols, and light up this 25-foot beauty.

Big thanks to (left to right) Public Works Supervisor Nelson Wright and hard-working city employees Spencer “Deen” Craig, Timmy Agee and James Downs on getting the town looking festive.

Please keep in mind that there will not be leaf pickup this week because of the short week and decorative efforts by our staff.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

RV resort asks Board of Adjustment to let it get water directly from wholesaler, have its own sewage treatment

Revised plan shows sewage-treatment plant at upper left, and detail of two types of RV sites.
To enlarge any image, click on it; to download an image, right-click on it.
Adapted image from WKYT-TV drone is centered on the Woodford County part of the project area.
By Al Cross
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The developer who wants to build a recreational-vehicle resort on both sides of South Elkhorn Creek is asking the Woodford County Board of Adjustment to let him get water directly from Kentucky American Water Co. and have his own sewage treatment facilities, since the Midway City Council unanimously refused to give him water and sewer service.

The conditional-use permit that allows Kentucky Bluegrass Experience Resort to operate a "tourism destination expanded" in an agricultural zone requires it to have "City public water and sewer." KBER is asking that the conditions be changed to require use of Kentucky American water, and sewage treatment by a state-permitted facility "in compliance with the Clean Water Act," a federal law that is enforced by the state.

Kentucky American is the City of Midway's main water supplier. It once supplied the city only through a main that runs along Leestown Road, but recently built a line through the project site (the former Mitchell farm) to provide better service to Midway Station and the city's only operating water tank.

The request for a private wastewater-treatment plant is likely to be the more controversial request, since concern about water quality in the creek has been a main concern of those opposed to the project, which would lie in both Woodford and Scott counties.

The application is on the agenda of the Board of Adjustment meeting set for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 6 at the county courthouse in Versailles. The next meeting of the Midway City Council is scheduled for 5:30 that evening, so Council Member Logan Nance has asked that the council move its meeting "so that those who would like can attend the BOA meeting and participate in the public comment portion."

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said he will call a special meeting of the council for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 23, "to give the council the opportunity to reschedule the Dec. 6 meeting to another night."

Under Board of Adjustment rules, each commenter at its meetings is limited to three minutes, and written comments can be submitted before the meeting.

The board gave the resort a conditional-use permit in May after the county's Agricultural Review Advisory Committee gave the resort's application a relatively low score and a qualified recommendation in February.

The $40 million resort would be one of the largest in the East, with over 1,000 sites. That, and lingering questions about its effect on the creek and how much RV traffic would come through Midway, have been its main obstacles. An organized group of opponents is represented by a Lexington lawyer.

When the City Council rejected the resort's request for utility service, which would have included annexation, Nance said the conditional-use permit for a commercial operation in an agricultural zone "shows that our system is broken, and that's something we'll have to fix."

Vandegrift said at the meeting that he is drafting a resolution to advise developers that "We are not interested in developments that are not within the comprehensive plan," the county's planning guideline.

After the meeting, KBER attorney Hank Graddy of Midway said he and developer Andrew Hopewell would continue "educating and persuading, and we may be doing some modifications" of the project. The prospect of private sewage treatment, in the absence of annexation, had been mentioned by Graddy and some opponents of the project at public forums before the council voted against it.

UPDATE, Nov. 22: The application says KBER has made "an exhaustive effort" to get city water and sewer service, noting a town-hall meeting, attempts to meet with opponents, and an offer to design and do initial construction of the 14 acres the city recently acquired upstream on the creek.

"Our team has been in communication with Midway officials since the project was first announced in June 2020," the application says. "The project received great support and enthusiasm through the BOA process and even Mayor Vandegrift sent an email to our team the day after" the permit was approved.

The application quotes Vandegrift as writing, "I'm so happy to have heard last night that your plans were approved by the BOA. We are very excited about this opportunity to grow Midway's tourism and local economic potential. Please let me know if I can help with anything. As you all get an idea of how much sewer capacity you'll be using, let me know and we can start talking services."

A month later, after several Midway-area residents called for a delay in the process and noted the planning staff's report to the BOA said the Woodford County side of the resort could accommodate up to 472 guests when that was actually the number of accommodations, Vandegrift granted them the 30-day comment period they requested and called for the project to be scaled back.

Vandegrift said in an email today, "I was, at the time, like so many others, under the impression that we were accommodating 472 guests on the property, not 472 sites. Something changed between their original communications with me and what got approved, and I don’t quite understand why or how they did that."

The city's official forum on the project was delayed until a traffic study could be completed while school was in session. Vandegrift said last summer that the project should not be built until Georgetown Road (KY 341) is widened. On Oct. 18, the council voted unanimously to deny water and sewer service.

Amanda Glass wins merchants' rainy, chilly chili cook-off

From left: Steve Morgan, second place; Anna Mills, third place; and winner Amanda Glass
Cold, rainy weather slowed but didn't stop the annual Chili Cook-Off of the Midway Business Association today. "We had 9 participants and we sold about 80 spoons" for people to judge entries starting at noon, MBA President Cortney Neikirk reports. "Much smaller than past years, but we are still in an pandemic so we are happy with that turnout!" Amanda Glass was the winner; Steve Morgan took second and Anna Mills third.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Governor puts mayor on state Law Enforcement Council

Gov. Beshear has appointed Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift to the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council, which oversees training for law-enforcement officers in the state.

Vandegrift replaces Jeffersontown Mayor Bill Dieruf, who has resigned and is running for mayor of Metro Louisville. Vandegrift was named to serve out Dieruf's unexpired term, which ends July 1, 2023.

Vandegrift is not running for a third term in 2022 and has entered the Democratic primary for the state House seat held by first-term Republican Rep. Dan Fister of Versailles.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Council annexes planned distillery property, votes 5-1 to turn City Hall into a museum and welcome center

This house at 426 S. Winter St. will be refurbished to house the city's administrative offices.
By Al Cross
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The Midway City Council voted 5-1 Monday night to move the city's administrative offices to 426 S. Winter St. so the current City Hall can be a home to the Midway Museum and a tourist welcome center.

The council also voted to complete annexation of the Bluegrass Distillers property at the northwest quadrant of the Interstate 64 interchange, and tentatively agreed to match up to $750 in donations for a piece of playground equipment for Northside Elementary School.

The council informally agreed three months ago to move the city offices to the city-owned house that was once part of the local school grounds and has been rental property since Midway got a new library.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said in August that the move would resolve three longstanding needs: a true visitors' center, not just a distracting sideline for city employees; public restrooms downtown, open beyond business hours; and a home for the Midway Museum, a collection of historical artifacts and documents held by a nonprofit organization with no permanent home.

He said Monday that the museum has been "on the wish list here for at least 20 years," and "I think we can have a museum in here as early as March."

The Rau Building, 101 E. Main St., houses City Hall.
The Rau Building at the corner of Main and Winter streets will still be called City Hall, and continue to host council meetings and have a drop box for utility payments, but Vandegrift said the administrative staff would work more efficiently and have more security and storage at the new site.

The only major question about the move was the cost of refurbishing the house. Vandegrift and City Clerk-Treasurer Cindy Foster estimated the interior work (paint and ductwork, floor stripping and sealing, replacing the back door, upgrading lighting and electric wiring) at $13,865, based on informal bids from various sources, but there was no estimate for outdoor work (washing, painting, minor landscape work and replacement of a railing).

Noting the indoor estimate, Council Member Logan Nance said he was concerned about the state of the building, "I'm really concerned that there's going to be a lot more than this that we're gonna end up having to pay to fix that place up."

"There might be," Vandegrift replied. "But the question is, do we want to create this attraction that's gonna help downtown and be an amazing display of our history? . . . It'll cost a little bit of money, no doubt about it." He said he was initially skeptical when Foster and her assistant, Sonya Conner, suggested the idea, "but the more I thought about it and the upsides to it, to me, strongly outweighed the downsides." He said a professional inspector had found "no major issues" with the structure.

Vandegrift said the current "visitor center" is called that, but "I don't really think it is one . . . The ability for this to be a true asset downtown outweighs any future costs we may have down the road."

Council Member Steve Simoff, who had asked for the cost breakdown, said the move would avoid the estimated cost of $25,000 to $35,000 to build public restrooms, and "I think this would be a good thing for the city and the people who come to visit."

Vandegrift said an "amazing" number of tourists come to City Hall, and "Sonya's job is not to be a tourism guide." Museum volunteers would handle that, and there are possibilities that the Woodford County Tourism Commission and/or the Midway Business Association would help out. The money for the interior work will come from money originally budgeted for computer upgrades.

Concluding the discussion, Nance said he saw "benefits both ways," but "I just think in the long run the best use of this space is to be a City Hall." But he cast the only opposing vote on the motion to approve the move and authorize the mayor to sign the agreement with Midway Museum Inc. Vandegrift said the agreement will keep council meetings where they are now.

Bluegrass Distillers touted its Midway rye
whiskies at the 2021 Midway Fall Festival.
The council gave unanimous final passage to the ordinance annexing 66 acres where Bluegrass Distillers plans to build a $3 million, tourism-oriented distillery once it reaches an agreement with the State Historic Preservation Office about archaeological work where it plans to add to buildings where slaves worked and lived before and during the Civil War.

Sam Rock, co-owner of Bluegrass Distillers, said he and the SHPO are "almost there" after staff from the office paid their first visit to the site recently. He said the difficulties with the office "sort of like, further emboldened us" to go ahead and start production of a rye whiskey with a Midway Distilling Co. label, the first batch of which was bottled Monday. He said it would probably be released next week.

Rock gave Steve Morgan of Midway credit for recruiting the company, which will relocate from Lexington. "I like to call it the Nantucket of Kentucky," he said. "We couldn't be more excited."

Vandegrift said the distillery would be the city's first since the 1950s. He said the industry has already returned to town, since 35,000 barrels if whisky are aging in or near the city.

Ga-ga ball pit (from Heather McColl via Midway Musings)
School equipment:
Mike McColl, representing WatchD.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students, which provides male role models at Northside Elementary), asked the council to help pay the $1,300 cost of an octagonal pit for ga-ga ball, a derivative of dodgeball, at the school. He said they want two, but are going after them one at a time.

Nance said the council's donation budget was "pretty much spoken for," but he and Vandegrift said the council-meeting discussion might help the group find other donors. Then Council Member Sara Hicks moved to donate $500 (later raising that to $750) if matched by other donors. Vandegrift suggested an alternative, that she withdraw the motion but state a willingness to make it again if donors come forward. Hicks agreed.

"Let's see if we can't find some people to come up with seven hundred fifty dollars," Vandegrift said. McColl said the best way to make a donation would probably be to call Midway Christian Church (846-4102), where his wife Heather is pastor.

Upcoming events:
On their way out of the meeting, MBA President Cortney Neikirk told McColl that the association would help his effort, and that she might be able to donate half the proceeds of the downtown chili cook-off scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 20, from noon to 2 p.m. (Pay $5 cash at City Hall for a spoon and a cup to sample more than 15 chilis made by contestants who will be on the sidewalks, then vote for your favorites.)

Vandegrift said in an email to the council and news media after the meeting that he had failed to mention that the city's downtown Christmas tree will be lit Friday, Nov. 26 at 6:30 p.m. "Our guys have made some special preparations and we’re excited about our biggest tree in years," he wrote.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Message from the mayor: Free coronavirus testing at old bank site Tuesday mornings, Thursday afternoons

By Grayson Vandegrift
Mayor, City of Midway

Thanks to the Woodford County Health Department and Ethos Labs, free PCR testing for the coronavirus will be available at the old bank site, 206 N. Gratz St., on Tuesdays from 8 to 10 a.m. and Thursdays from 3 to 5 p.m. The testing is now less invasive, using a lower nostril swab, and results can be expected around 24 hours later.

I’m very thankful to the health department for reaching out to us in hopes that we could provide a site, and we appreciate WesBanco for giving permission to use the site. This site will continue Covid-19 testing until further notice, and now means there is testing available in Woodford five days a week. Thanks very much.

Ouita Michel rebrands; her business is simply Holly Hill

Holly Hill's new logo has parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
Midway's most famous business has rebranded itself by going back to its beginning.

Holly Hill is now the brand that covers the "Ouita Michel family of restaurants," the former name for the eclectic mix of eateries that Michel and her husband, Chris, built from Holly Hill Inn in Midway, starting in 2000.

Chef Ouita told her email list last week, "These past weeks and months, I have been asked countless times what I’ve learned from being in the restaurant business during the onset and duration of a pandemic that we are still navigating. I've gained so much that it's hard to put into words. At the top of the list though, are a deep appreciation of the place where I am and the people who surround me, and a desire to celebrate our rich food culture -- the culture that we bring collectively to our restaurants and the culture that thrives outside them.

"With that in mind, I'm excited to share with you the next path of our company: Holly Hill. On this new website and through this newsletter, we'll share with you the stories and recipes that create the community around us. We'll tell the stories of people, places, and ingredients coming together in large ways and small ways, one bite and one memory at a time. We'll celebrate the veteran chefs, the next generation, the farmers, the home cooks, the artists, and those who appreciate the uniqueness of our foodways. You'll also find a stream of curated artisanal goods like the ones you've come to love from us."

The new name and website come with a new logo, a frame with parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. "Parsley symbolizes comfort and the cleansing away of bitterness; sage represents wisdom and the knowledge to do what’s right; rosemary is for remembrance, fidelity, and love; and thyme signifies strength and courage," Ouita wrote. "They seemed the perfect bouquet garni for our time, and in my head I can hear the song, a gift from an old song book on my mom’s piano."

Friday, November 5, 2021

Northside developers formally withdraw proposal, near deal with Northridge Estates; application expected soon

Alternate plan calls for 13 fully detached single-family homes on traditionally sized lots. 

Northside Homes LLC has formally withdrawn its application to rezone eight acres on Northside Drive to allow higher-density housing, and is "very close to reaching a deal" with the Northridge Estates Homeowners Association for a tract that will make possible a revised plan for traditional homes, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said today.

The alternate plan, first announced in August, calls for nine homes on Northside Drive and four on Old Towne Walk, part of Northridge Estates, partly using land that belongs to the association. The original plan was for 68 "townhomes" in groups of three or four, connected by breezeways, and ran into extensive opposition.

Vandegrift said he expects that developers Mike and Scott Bradley will soon submit their new plan to the Woodford County Planning Commission, which would hold a public hearing on an application to rezone the tracts to R-1B or R-1C. "I commend the Bradleys and the HOA in striking a compromise that everyone can live with," the mayor said.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

City starts annexing distillery site; payroll tax revenue up

Area to be annexed is in red hash marks; for a slightly larger version, click on it. For full size, right-click to download.
By Al Cross
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The Midway City Council began annexing 66 acres that will home to a distillery, and heard that the city is connecting payroll taxes at a record clip, at its meeting Monday evening.

The council heard first reading of an ordinance annexing the West Leestown Road property of Bluegrass Distillers, which plans to build a tourism-oriented distillery there. It lies within the urban service boundary, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift noted.

Construction has been delayed while the company negotiates with the State Historic Preservation Office about the amount of archaeological digging needed before it can add porches with concrete floors to buildings that were occupied by enslaved persons until 1865. "We're about there, I think," co-owner Sam Rock told the council.

The $3.1 million project includes a $440,000 state loan for equipment, which will be made in the form of a community development block grant to the city. Payments on the loan will go to the Woodford County Economic Development Authority, which can use it for job recruitment and retention.

Vandegrift said the distillery project began in 2017 with his appointment of a John McDaniel, Steve and Julie Morgan and Dan Roller to a task force to recruit a distillery and/or brewery, and their efforts paid off. Second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for the next meeting, Nov. 15.

Tax revenue: Vandegrift reported that the city collected more than $420,000 in occupational taxes in the first quarter of the fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. That is almost half the $900,000 total estimated in the budget, and far more than the annual total of six years ago, before the boom at Midway Station.

"This is exceptional news, and very encouraging," Vandegrift said, adding that he looks forward to discussing with the council possible uses for the extra money. The budget already had a surplus of $900,000, even after property taxes were cut a few years ago. "I think there's room for a lot of ideas," the mayor said, adding later, "Our future is very bright, very bright."

Council Member Logan Nance drew a round of applause when he said previous mayors and councils should share in the credit for their work on Midway Station, which was a major financial burden.

Vandegrift announced that water and sewer customers are receiving a survey to see how many have sump pumps connected to the sewer system and would be willing to participate in a cost-sharing program to get them off it. Such connections are illegal, but the mayor said many people bought their homes not realizing they had such connections, and the city is not seeking to punish them.

In other business, the council:
  • Approved a revised city employee handbook, on which Vandegrift said City Clerk-Treasurer Cindy Foster did "a remarkably good job" over the course of a year. Council Member Stacy Thurman, the local librarian, said, "I've never seen a more thorough employee handbook."
  • Voted to spend $2,500 for a historical marker at the site of the African American school that was ransacked by a mob in 1868. Vandegrift said former council member John Holloway and others are working on the project. 
  • Gave the Midway Business Association street-closing permits for the visit of Santa Claus by train on Saturday, Nov. 27, and the Midway Music Festival on July 23, which Nance called "my favorite thing you did last year."
  • Heard Council Member Sara Hicks say that the city should explore installation of solar panels in City Hall and the buffer zone between Midway Station developments and Interstate 64. Noting the global climate conference this week, she said, "I would really hope that we could become a leader for a clean and safe planet for our children."
  • Heard Vandegrift say that a Woodford County County Veterans Commission is being formed by the county and the two cities to honor, remember and thank veterans and support them with any issues that they or their organizations face. He hinted strongly that Nance, an Army veteran of Afghanistan, would be Midway's honorary co-chair, and said the first meeting would be at 11 a.m. Nov. 11, the precise 103rd anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

UK Equine Programs students hold second annual Week of Service to horse industry in Bluegrass

Equine majors Charles Churchill and Olivia Bryant
planted bulbs at African Cemetery No. 2 in Lexington.
By Holly Wiemers
University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment’s equine programs held their second annual Equine Week of Service Oct. 4-9.

Students in the equine leadership program, Wildcat Wranglers, created and implemented the Week of Service to give students a chance to give back to the equine industry, especially important during the isolation of the pandemic. Wranglers coordinated volunteers and promoted the event on social media.

“We had an amazing turnout during the week, with more than 250 shifts being filled and just over 500 hours of time given,” said Nick D’Amore, a senior equine major and Wildcat Wrangler who headed the group’s volunteer and outreach committee. “We couldn't be happier, given the success of the event last year, to be able to follow that up and be just as well received this year. It was very rewarding for everyone involved.”

The Week of Service helped seven Lexington-area equine organizations, including the African Cemetery No. 2, Kentucky Riding for Hope, the Kentucky Equine Adoption Center, the Kentucky Horse Park and Mounted Police, Our Mims Retirement Haven in Bourbon County, and Old Friends retirement farm for Thoroughbreds in Scott County, near Midway.

“My favorite part about the UK Equine Week of Service is seeing how the community comes together,” said Margaret Babiarz, an equine senior and head of the marketing and communications for the week.

Kristen Wilson, academic coordinator in UK Equine Programs and adviser to the Wildcat Wranglers, expressed hope that the event helped equine organizations in their day-to-day functions.

“The UK Equine Week of Service is a great opportunity for our students, faculty, staff and alumni to come together to give back to the local equine industry, and to get away from the classroom and network,” Wilson said.

James MacLeod, director of UK Equine Programs, said he is glad it has become an annual tradition.

“We can all be proud of everything the students have accomplished,” MacLeod said. “The broad participation and enthusiasm are wonderful, with both the host organizations and the volunteers living the commitment to be the change you wish to see in the world.”

To see recaps from the week, visit the UK Ag Equine Programs’ Instagram or Facebook pages or the website at https://equine.ca.uky.edu/. For a story on the programs' recent job fair, click here.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Woman's Club reveals Halloween decorating winners

The home at 211 South Winter Street won the Best Overall award. (Photos by Midway Woman's Club)

The Midway Woman's Club has announced the winners of its annual Halloween Decorating Contest. The Best Overall award went to the home at 211 S. Winter St. The other winners were:

Best Spider Web: 244 W. Higgins St.

Best Business: 136 E. Main St.

Best Daytime Display: 116 Coach Station

Most Kid-Friendly: 323 S. Winter St.

Best Halloween Spirit: 121 Carriage Lane

Scariest: 209 S. Winter St.

Most Fun: 105 Cottage Grove

Creepiest - 213 E. Stephens St.

Friday, October 22, 2021

EDA selling commercial lot to distiller that has Midway Station warehouse; distillery project near state approval

Big Dog Holdings is buying the lot in blue. A plat is below. For a larger version of the image, click on it.
The Woodford County Economic Development Authority agreed Friday to sell a lot that will likely lead to the first highway-commercial business in Midway Station.

The board accepted an offer of $112,500 for a lot of 1.025 acres on McKinney Avenue from Big Dog Holdings, the parent firm of White Dog Trading, which has a warehouse just to the north, along Georgetown Road, on the former Roach farm that was added to Midway Station.

EDA Chair Michael Michalisin said the company plans to build a retail showroom and gift shop. He said it would be the first lot zoned B-5 (highway business) to be sold by the authority. Dennis Anderson of Lexington, who was the would-be developer of Midway Station for several years, still owns several commercial lots along and near Georgetown Road that have not been developed.

With the pending sale of Midway Station's last industrial lot, the sale marks a turning point in the course of the development that started as an industrial park 30 years ago and went through other largely unsuccessful stages before reverting to primarily industrial, with commercial along the road.

The EDA is counting on sales of high-priced commercial lots near the road to retire the $1.17 million debt remaining on the property. Michalisin said the banks' mortgage-release fee for the lot would be $15,625.

Industrial lots sold for $65,000 an acre, until the last one, Lot 24, which needs regrading and has gone through more than one attempted sale. Last month, May Demolition of Lexington signed a contract to buy Lot 24 for $165,000, which Michalisin said then would be $51,280 short of the release fee, an amount that EDA would have to pay the banks when the sale is closed.

Michalisin said then that the company is "in a position to remediate about the topographical challenges" of the lot and would build a facility that would could eventually employ as many as 50 people. He said Friday that EDA is ready to close the sale when the company is ready.

Among other business at Friday's meeting, Greyson Evans of the Blue Grass Area Development District said Bluegrass Distillers is nearing the end of negotiations with the State Historic Preservation Office on a memorandum of agreement that will govern how the company reshapes Elkwood Farm into a tourism-themed distillery.

"It's been far lengthier than I anticipated," Evans said, mainly due to the history of slavery on the property. He said current negotiations are about the level of archaeological digging at the Elkwood mansion, built around 1835, and a building that housed enslaved people. "We're splitting hairs at this point," Evans said. "I'm optimistic it's all going to work out for the better."

The EDA board authorized Michalisin to sign two key documents for state aid to the distillery, including a lease for equipment that the distillery will buy with a community development block grant to the city that is actually a low-interest loan to be repaid by the distillery. EDA Executive Director Lucas Witt said the loan payments of $418,000 will go to the EDA, which can use the money for other economic-development activities.

Highlighted part of plat shows Lot 2 on McKinney Avenue near Georgetown Road. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Fall Volunteer Day at Walter Bradley Park tomorrow

Volunteers gathered at the pavilion for the Spring Volunteer Day.
Friends of Walter Bradley Park will have their annual Fall Volunteer Day tomorrow, Saturday, Oct. 23, from 10 a.m. to noon.

"Keeping our park looking its best is a community effort," the group says. "We really hope you can join us to help with some regular park maintenance!

To help the group get a count of how many volunteers may show up, it asks that those planning to attend please complete this RSVP form.

Volunteers are asked to meet at the park pavilions a little before 10 a.m. for group assignments. Bring gloves if you have them.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Message from the mayor: Weekly leaf collection starts Monday; water system will be flushed next week

By Grayson Vandegrift, mayor, City of Midway

Leaf collection will begin Monday, Oct. 25. As always, piles of leaves (no sticks) that are placed in the right of way in front of homes will be collected on a weekly basis.
All of next week, Oct. 25-29, we will be doing our scheduled hydrant flushing around town to keep our lines free of sediment buildup. You may notice a different look in your water temporarily, usually a “bubbly” appearance, but the water is still safe to drink. If you notice a different look, running your faucet for a couple minutes can help.

Holler if anyone has any questions.

City, museum seek Community Fund grants to make City Hall visitor center, museum; you vote until Oct. 28

The Rau Building, now City Hall, would be a full-time visitor center.
Two Midway applications are among nine competing for grants from the Woodford County Community Fund, which is seeking ranked votes from citizens in what it calls a "Grant Shebang" through Oct. 28. The rankings will be combined with those of the foundation board to reach the final decisions.

The two applications are related. The City of Midway is seeking money to help it move its administrative offices to the old library building at 426 S. Winter St., and the Midway Museum is seeking funds to help it convert City Hall into a public museum and tourist welcome center.

The museum says it would use the $2,500 grant to buy "permanent educational installations outfitting the museum" with "professional signage displays which outline in detail the story of Midway." It cites displays at the Kentucky History Center and Capital City Museum in Frankfort as examples of the displays it has in mind.

The building at 426 S. Winter St. would house city administrative offices.
The museum says its board "is actively creating physical display and program concepts to align with current virtual and educational initiatives," with help from the city, the Woodford County Tourism Commission, the Midway Merchants Association, Midway Renaissance and other volunteers. It says the museum "is developing staffing plan to open the facility six days a week, with volunteers initially and plans for a part-time employee or paid intern."

The goals listed in the museum's application are: Increase exposure and access to the Midway Museum, to grow community contributions of historical significance from Midway’s past for the edification of future generations; physically and digitally secure more items of Midway’s historical significance for the purpose of preservation and research for future generations; responsibly manage items for public display and reference access (in a research room); generate new interest in local history; create a one-of-a-kind public space for the first railroad in Kentucky, the Lexington & Ohio Rail Road, and the subsequent Lexington & Frankfort Railroad, highlighting privately-owned, original documents which Midway Museum currently has exclusive rights to access; present advertised programs unique to the area, which will draw residents and visitors; provide public restrooms to people in Midway during peak visiting hours, six days a week; develop a visitors center that supports the merchants of Midway; and help recruit and train volunteers through the anticipated Woodford County Tourism Commission “Ambassadors of Woodford County” program to staff the museum and visitors center.

The city's application says moving the administrative offices would improve security for the city’s records and equipment, and provide privacy and a quiet environment for people making cemetery arrangements with city staff; and preserve the city-owned building at 426 S. Winter St.

The City Council informally agreed in August to move the offices from City Hall. Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said the plan would resolve "in a very elegant way" three needs that he has consistently heard expressed: the need for a true visitors' center that is not not just a sideline for city employees; a home for the museum; and public restrooms in the downtown area. City Hall has public restrooms but is not open after 4:30 or on weekends, when there is considerable demand for restrooms.

Vandegrift said the Rau Building at the corner of Main and Winter streets would still be called City Hall, and remain the site for council meetings. He said City Clerk-Treasurer Cindy Foster and Deputy Clerk Sonya Conner are "enthusiastically in favor of the idea" because it would allow them to work more efficiently.

When City Hall was closed early in the pandemic, Conner told the council, "We really got a lot of things done, not having that foot traffic coming in the door." She said she was able to finish computerizing all the cemetery records, a project that had taken five years until the pandemic closure.

The other applications to the Community Fund are for the recycled benches project of Bluegrass Greensource; interpretive signage for the Huntertown Community Park; the 2021 Kentucky Youth Assembly of the Kentucky YMCA; the Mentors & Meals Summer Meet-ups Program; the Millville Community Market; and a teen drop-in center at the Spark Community Cafe in Versailles.

The Woodford County Community Fund's web page for the program has presentations summarizing each of the grant applications. "Each of these represents a commitment to enhance the quality of life in our community and to bring opportunities for new experiences to residents and visitors," the foundation says. Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Council votes 6-0 to deny service to planned RV resort, which says it will keep trying, and may modify its plan

City Council members, the mayor and city staff talked before the meeting began at Northside.
By Al Cross
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The Midway City Council voted unanimously this evening to deny water and sewer service to the big recreational-vehicle park proposed on South Elkhorn Creek, but the attorney for the developer said they would continue "educating and persuading, and we may be doing some modifications" of the project.

The issue is much broader than utilities, Council Member Stacy Thurman said as the discussion began: "We would not be very responsible representatives of our community if we did not take into into account the whole picture, not just water and sewer."

The $40 million plan for one of the largest RV parks in the Eastern U.S., with more than 1,000 sites in Woodford and Scott counties, had drawn objections about its size and scope, traffic issues, and the possible effects on the creek and the character of Midway.

Sentiment ran firmly against the project at a city-sponsored forum Thursday night, and council members said they had already heard likewise. Logan Nance said an "overwhelming majority" of citizens who contacted him opposed it, and Steve Simoff said there had been "only been a handful that were willing to give this a shot," and 75 to 85 percent "don't want it."

Thurman said the proposal "as it stands" did not offer enough information for her to be sure that it would be a net benefit to the city, and "I'm not so sure that I feel this is a very good use of a conditional-use permit."

In May, the Woodford County Board of Adjustment unanimously gave the Kentucky Bluegrass Experience Resort a permit to operate a "tourism destination expanded" in an an agricultural zone, with conditions, after the county's Agricultural Advisory Review Committee gave it a relatively low score and a qualified recommendation.

"The fact that an obviously commercial project has been given approval to develop on land zoned agricultural shows that our system is broken," Nance said, "and that's something that we'll have to fix." The city, Versailles and Woodford County have a joint zoning ordinance.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said he is drafting a resolution for the council to advise developers that "We are not interested in developments that are not within the comprehensive plan," the county's guide for development. That drew applause, as did the conclusion of a lengthy statement read by Nance.

"We love our small town," Nance said. "We want to keep Midway Midway." In 2019 he was the only member to vote against annexation and rezoning of property that, in effect, expanded the Midway Station industrial and commercial park across Georgetown Road from the proposed resort entrance.

Noting the chance that developer Andrew Hopewell might seek industrial zoning of the property if it can't become an RV resort, Nance said he would oppose it. "There is always going to be some threat of some future unknown," he said. "As the cities around us continue to expand unchecked, folks with money are always going to be looking to exploit Midway."

Earlier, Nance said "I don't think there are any bad actors on either side here, but one thing I'll never understand is this idea that in order to appreciate the natural beauty of a region you have to slap some concrete slabs on its rolling hills, tear up its soil for swimming pools, cut down its trees for a restaurant, and replace its quiet with the sound of engines."

Later, he noted Hopewell's purchase of the former Wesbanco branch bank property, which carries a five-year deed restriction prohibiting a bank there, likely leaving Midway without a bank; and said Hopewell was trying to buy other buildings (which Hopewell denied in an interview after the meeting).

Nance told Hopewell, who has declined to name his investors, "Apparently you want to buy your way into Midway, so let me just say this, for any venture capitalist out there that may have backed this organization ... any potential developers that want to come into Midway and change our town, I want to say this: Midway is not for sale."

That drew applause from the crowd of about 75 in the Northside Elementary School gymnasium, where the meeting was held due to expectations of a large audience. Other council members spoke directly to Hopewell, spokesman Joey Svec and attorney Hank Graddy from the council tables.

(Before that, Council Member Sara Hicks said being a council member is "sacred duty," and so is protecting "our land." Council Member Mary Raglin didn't speak, other than to vote no.)

Simoff told the development team, "I'm afraid of it. Guys, I like you all. I think you came forward with a plan that you think will work, but I think it's in the wrong place. . . . I respect you for what you have tried to bring to our community. I cannot move forward and vote yes for this with the lack of input that you have presented to this community."

Kaye Nita Gallagher, who said she didn't make up her mind on the issue until she entered the door of the gym, said, "Most of the comments we've had have been 'Scale it down,' and I know economically you cannot scale it down. . . . If you can scale it back some, and decide to bring it back to the council, I would probably reconsider it then." 

Immediately after the vote and adjournment of the meeting, Graddy told reporters, "We have some educating and persuading to do, and we will be doing some educating and persuading. And we may be doing some modifications."

Asked about seeking a zone change, to resolve complaints about the process, Grady said he had never understood that argument: "The land-use decision has been made, and it wasn't appealed" by opponents of the project, who "had lawyers during the 30 days following the decision," the appeal period. "It's a valid conditional use, and we, like any other business, are entitled to sewers. I think politics has intervened with property rights, and we will attempt to persuade the City Council to reconsider."

Asked if Hopewell has any basis for going to court, Graddy said they would "try education and persuasion before we take another steps. Obviously, legal action is available to us."

Graddy, a Midway environmentalist who has usually represented opponents of development, said the conditional-use process provides more protection for the property than rezoning would.

"We've made a decision in this community that agricultural land is available to celebrate natural resources that are of landmark category like Elkhorn Creek, and that's what these guys did, within the zoning ordinance," he said.

Graddy said they would be willing to add conditions to the permit, such as firmer limits on the length of stays and a requirement that all guests making reservations be told "that their route to come to this resort excludes coming through Versailles and Midway. . . . We believe we can control our guests' use of Midway Road."

Vandegrift expressed a different view during the meeting, saying "It doesn't matter what a place tells you to do, your GPS tells you what to do."

The mayor said that when he first heard of the project, its amenities were appealing, but "We knew all along there would have to be a vetting process somewhere." He said that did not begin until the permit was issued, and "The answers never kept up with the questions."

For example, it turned out that the promised day passes for Midway residents to use the resort would be $20. "How many families here can afford that?" Vandegrift asked. "I can't."

The mayor said he asked Svec and Hopewell Aug. 5 how they could reconcile that their report might have more than twice as many people on site as residents of the town, and Svec said, "We don't know how many people we'll have on our campground on a daily basis."

"That was a red flag to me, because any good business starts with a good business plan," Vandegrift said. "I simply cannot wrap my head around how building one of the largest RV parks in the country on a conditional-use permit which can be revoked any year for not meeting it is sustainable growth."

He added, "I've heard nothing of a sufficient demand study. . . . Is there sufficient demand to fill the park up?"

Hopewell told reporters that the resort has a market study and a team member with much experience at running RV resorts.

UPDATE, Oct. 19: Thurman sent members of the Midway Business Association this email:
Dear small-business owners,
I wanted you to know that last night, as I voted against providing water and sewer to the KBER, I did think about our small businesses and our tourism in Midway. The most compelling arguments I have heard FOR the development have been from well-informed small-business owners in our community who have done their due diligence. I don't doubt that a resort, like the one proposed, would bring some benefit to our downtown. I value our businesses and know that Midway would not be the same without you. It's interesting how many people who fought against this development said they wanted to keep the charming, friendly, small-town feel of Midway, but it was not lost on me that our Main Street businesses and area restaurants are a big reason why we have that image in the first place.
At the end of the day, I am simply not convinced that the benefits of this development outweigh the potential risk. I don't have confidence that they can pull this off, as the plan stands, and create a long-lasting, revenue-generating operation. I don't think this is over and I am prepared to keep listening with an open mind to all who are involved. I just thought that you, our business owners, deserved an explanation or at least the acknowledgement. Please know that a vote against KBER was not a vote against you. You are part of the heart of Midway and I appreciate you.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Sentiment runs against resort plan at community forum

Proposed RV resort developer Andrew Hopewell spoke to the crowd as his attorney, Hank Graddy; City Council members, and Mayor Grayson Vandegrift listened. (Photos by Ryan Craig, UK College of Communication and Information)
By Al Cross
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Sentiment continued to run firmly against the proposed recreational-vehicle resort on South Elkhorn Creek at a public forum Thursday night, but the proposal drew endorsements from some business interests and others.

About 150 people attended the City of Midway's event at Midway University. The Kentucky Bluegrass Experience Resort is asking the city to provide sewer and water service, and to annex the property if the City Council decides to follow the current policy of not running sewers outside the city limits.

The objections were familiar: The plan is too big (more than 1,000 sites, which would make it one of the largest RV parks in the Eastern U.S.); it would cause traffic problems (480 RVs per day, according to the developer's own traffic study); and it would forever change the character of Midway.

"Midway sits on the precipice of failure," former City Council member Dale Benson said. "The real ideal of Midway is that less is more."

Cindy Kerrick, the sister and daughter of former council members, all of whom have passed away, said "I hope we are respectful of the people who sacrificed to make this town what it is today, and not throw it away for something fancy and shiny."

But Hank Graddy of Midway, attorney for developer Andrew Hopewell of Lexington, said that "I believe it will not have any negative impact on the city" and that only pasture will be visible from Georgetown Road, where the property entrance would be, across from Midway Station.

Herman Farrell of Midway replied later, "We're gonna see the effects of this RV park." He noted that Hopewell has never done such a project, and "There's a lot of questions that are still out there."

Joe Childers, attorney for opponents, spoke after Hopewell and Graddy.
The council is scheduled to act on the resort's request at its next meeting, at 5:30 p.m. Monday. The council has been meeting by Zoom, but Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said this meeting will be in person, at the Northside Elementary School gymnasium, to accommodate the expected crowd.

Zoning issues: Graddy argued that the council does not face a land-use decision, because that issue was decided May 3, when the Woodford County Board of Adjustment gave KBER a conditional-use permit to operate a "tourism destination expanded" on land that remains agriculturally zoned.

But Childers said that due to a planning staff error, the public was unaware of the number of RV accommodations in the plan before the decision was made. He and other opponents said Midway, Versailles and the county should amend their zoning ordinance to prevent such large commercial operations on farmland without the full-scale rezoning process.

Childers also noted that KBER had not made clear how it would enforce the permit's six-month limit on stays at the resort, which he said could be easily circumvented. He said there is nothing to keep RVers from renting their vehicles through Air BnB, creating a new residential community.

Tourism and business: Three speakers said the resort would help Midway and Woodford County benefit more from tourism related to horses and bourbon. Maria Bohanan, chair of the county Tourist Commission, said the resort "would allow us to tap into the adventure tourism market." 

But Tracy Farmer, head of the group that recently got Old Frankfort Pike named a National Scenic Byway, said in a letter read by Childers that RV traffic "would be dangerous and devastating to users of the byway."

Cortney Neikirk, president of the Midway Business Association, and Amy Bowman, co-owner of Midway Makers Market, supported the proposal, citing their visit to a South Carolina resort that is one of the models for KBER.

Bowman said some local business people told her that they feared their trade would suffer if they spoke out in favor of the resort, and Neikirk said "The positives outweigh the negatives." Noting the possibility that the property would become industrial if the resort plan falls through, Neikirk said "The alternative scares me worse . . . a factory that has 500 employees that don't give a crap about Midway."

Karen Edwards of Midway said the city shouldn't discriminate against the resort, and noted Hopewell's offer of $200,000 and design assistance to make a park of the 14 acres along the creek that it recently received in a donation from farmer-developer Mike Freeny: "No other Midway Station businesses have given back to the community like Andrew Hopewell has offered to do."

Helen Rentch of Midway said the plan is novel and has creative aspects "and very many desirable components," but "It does not need to have these excessive numbers to be a successful business plan." She said the current plan "is a land grab, designed to exploit the land and our culture, and not to enhance it."

Rentch said Midway needs "a place for RVs," as well as primitive camping. "We do want to be hospitable. We do want to welcome visitors . . . but these numbers are not tolerable, and the excessive aspect of them would be a significant loss to our comfort and to our character."

Developer's diagram shows Woodford County portion. Click it to enlarge.
Hopewell, taking his highest-profile role yet since he first publicly floated the plan 16 months ago, said "We have the best team in the world to ever do an RV resort."

Debra Shockley of Midway, a principal in a Lexington architectural firm, said "I can't think of another development in Midway that has been as thoughtful to site design."

Shockley said the controversy reminded her of Bluegrass Stockyards' failed efforts to buy Midway Station in 2007, before it became successful. "It all boiled down to a fear of the unknown," she said.

Shockley also disputed concerns about traffic, saying her parents were RV enthusiasts, and RVers carefully plan their trips to avoid problems such as narrow roads like Midway Road (US 62) and railroad crossings like the one on 62 in Midway that can cause "tail drag" and lost mufflers.

But RVer Laura Riddle, the next speaker, said she is extremely opposed to the resort because it has not made public any market survey of its potential guests. "My fear is this venture is going to go belly up and the taxpayers will be left holding the bag," she said.

South Elkhorn Creek, upstream from Moore's Mill (file photo)
The creek
: Several speakers voiced concern about South Elkhorn Creek, which runs through the property and is the Scott-Woodford county line.

"I can't see any way that it can be properly protected," said Don Dampier of Ironworks Estates, a former state Parks Department official. "Elkhorn Creek, to me, is a regional treasure . . . and most people take it for granted."

Bob Riddle, 71, of Fishers Mill Road, also in Scott County, said water quality in the creek has shown "minor improvements" because Lexington is controlling its sewage better, but there are "still no frogs, and few ducks that I saw as a child."

Hopewell has said he will clean up the creek and plant trees along it, but David Gregory said he and other creekside residents have always done that. "Is the creek going to be a better place after they're done, or is it going to be degraded more? Is is going to be busier?" The resort plan calls for kayaking.

County breakdown: Only five of the 19 speakers from Woodford County endorsed the project, as did two people from Nicholasville and one from Lexington. About a dozen people from Scott County spoke, and none of them endorsed the project. 

Magistrate Chad Wallace said his Scott County first responders are "not excited" about the prospect of having to go through Woodford County to access the Scott County part of the property.

Wallace took no position, but he and others said that if the City Council intends to extend utility service to the property, it needs to get written commitments from Hopewell so he can be held to his promises.

A representative of Georgetown's water and sewer system read a letter from its superintendent saying that the Scott County portion of the property is not in the system's approved service area, and that small "package" plants should not be relied on to handle the sewage there. The plan calls for sewage from the Scott County side to be pumped into Woodford County for piping to the Midway sewer plant, which has sufficient capacity.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Mayor on Indigenous Peoples Day: We can't understand the present without understanding all about the past

Behind Mayor Grayson Vandegrift and his daughter Andi: City Council Member
Sara Hicks, Christy Reaves, Council Member Stacy Thurman. (Photo provided)
Today is Columbus Day, but it is also Indigenous Peoples Day, this year for the first time under a presidential proclamation. Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift issued a similar proclamation this afternoon. Its full text:

WHEREAS, the City of Midway recognizes that the Indigenous People of the expanse that would later become known as the Americas have occupied these lands since time immemorial; and

WHEREAS, Indigenous People continue to advocate passionately for their communities, way of life, and the well being of the land they have been stewards of for many millennia; and

WHEREAS, the City of Midway exists in the territory formerly occupied by multiple cultures of Indigenous People who were in relation with the land long before the westward expansion of European-American settlements in this country; and

WHEREAS, the City of Midway recognizes that we cannot understand our present until we understand everything we can about our past;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Grayson Vandegrift, mayor of the City of Midway, Kentucky, do hereby proclaim October 11, 2021 to be Indigenous People’s Day in Midway.