Thursday, July 29, 2021

Second annual walk to remember racist destruction of Black school in 1868 is scheduled for noon Saturday

Honoring Black Stories in Midway will have its second annual Remembrance Walk at noon Saturday, July 31, to recall the 1868 destruction of Midway's African American school by a racist mob.

The walk will start at City Hall, go to Gratz Street, Stephens Street (Professor William Christy Way), and other areas before returning to City Hall. Scheduled speakers outside Second Christian Church are the Rev. Heather McColl of Midway Christian Church and the Rev. William Bush, a descendant of Alexander Campbell and Samuel Buckner, the fathers of the Colored Christian Church movement in Kentucky.

Refreshments will be served afterward. The event is free. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines are to be observed. For information contact Milan Bush at honoringblackstories@gmail.com.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

City's 'growth spurt is ending,' no matter what happens with housing and RV-resort proposals, Vandegrift says

County Judge-Executive James Kay, left, and Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott listened as Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift spoke at the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce event Monday evening. (Photo by Tim Culver, Midway University)
By Al Cross
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Now that most of the land in Midway Station has been sold, 600 jobs have been created and the City of Midway is no longer on the hook for millions of dollars in debt on the property, "That growth spurt is rapidly coming to an end," Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said Monday evening.

The mayor spoke at the annual report by Woodford County's three government executives, held at Midway University this year. He said 30 acres in Midway Station that are zoned for commercial development by the county Economic Development Authority should be rezoned for light industry.

"I just don't see why we need 30 more acres of commercial," he said. "Light industrial makes more sense. I think the EDA sees it that way; I think the City Council sees it that way, so I think we'll get that done." EDA Chair Michael Michalisin of Midway told the Messenger afterward that he generally agreed, but might want some property near Georgetown Road to remain commercial. He noted that the commercial lots fronting the road are owned by developer Dennis Anderson.

Vandegrift raised the issue of growth in the context of the controversial proposals for a high-density housing development on Northside Drive and a luxury recreational-vehicle resort on either side of South Elkhorn Creek, the Woodford-Scott County line. The first requires a zoning change by the City Council, and the second would require annexation to use the city's sewer and water systems.

"Like every other controversial thing in my administration, we take it to the people," he said. "We have public forums; the council listens to them. I listen to them. And in the end, so far, people have generally always dictated what happens. . . . That's what's going to happen here, with these two current growth issues going on."

That's as far as he went on those issues. "But I will say this; I can say it confidently. We went through a growth spurt recently, a necessary growth spurt, as I explained it."

(Earlier, he said "We had to develop Midway Station," because of the debt that the county had incurred for it; he said the late Phyllis Hudson, then city clerk, told him when he became mayor in 2015 that the city could be insolvent in 10 years.)

Vandegrift continued, "But I can say confidently that that growth spurt is rapidly coming to an end. And that doesn't mean that there won't be any growth for a long time, or anything like that; there will always be room for smart-growth pieces here, but the growth spurt is ending, regardless of what happens with these two issues before us.

"And that's because we accomplished the goal; we did what we needed to do; there's no reason to grow, just to grow. And people of Midway will tell you, they want to keep it intentionally small, so we should. We are members of a democracy, and will remain so."

Earlier, he said, "Growth is a good thing when it's necessary. It's a good thing when it leads to things like lowering people's taxes, like improving their services, lie making sure their water and sewers are set up for the future. And it's a good thing when it's sustainable. But when you have growth, other developers see opportunity."

Developer Mike Bradley says there is great demand from people making $40,000 to $50,000 a year for housing like the 68 "townhomes" that he is planning next to the grocery his parents once owned and that he plans to sell for $150,000 to $185,000 each.

The county's comprehensive plan allows as many as 82 units on the eight acres in the zone Bradley has requested, but opponents say the development would be too dense and create traffic and drainage problems. The county Planning Commission has not rescheduled a hearing on Bradley's request.

The RV resort would have 492 accommodations in Woodford County and more than 500 in Scott. The developers' lawyer, Hank Graddy of Midway, argues that it is the best use for the property, formerly the Mitchell farm, and that if the proposal is rejected, the next request is likely to be for industrial zoning, since Midway Station is across the road from the property entrance.

Opponents have raised concerns about water pollution and RV traffic, which the developers say they would steer away from US 62. The city recently delayed its public forum on the proposal so a traffic study could be done while schools are in session. The forum is set for Sept. 9 at the university.

Also at the Monday evening event, sponsored by the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce, Vandegrift said the city may move its administrative functions so the space now used as City Hall can be used for a historical museum and visitors' center.

Vandegrift first spoke only of "a brick-and-mortar museum," saying he would reserve details until next Monday's City Council meeting (unless his wife is having their baby at the time), but during the question-and-answer period the Messenger asked him about it.

He said the "administrative wing of City Hall" could be moved to another building the city owns. That is next to the Rau Building, which houses City Hall, where several historical items are on display and city employees welcome tourists. He said the city might ask the county Tourism Commission to help.

Another project in the works seems certain to involve a partnership: a new city fire station and a county ambulance station, sharing a wall in a new building Midway Station. Vandegrift noted that it would give the northern end of the county 24-hour ambulance service for the first time.

Vandegrift recounted major expenditures authorized by the budget for the fiscal year that began July 1, including $400,000 for storm-sewer repairs, mainly in the Gayland subdivision, and $140,000 in water and sanitary-sewer work. He said the city is making probably its biggest investment ever in drainage.

The budget has $50,000 to begin rehabilitation of the city's only operating water tower, but Vandegrift said he is "leaning more and more" toward using all the $490,000 that the city will get from the federal American Rescue Plan Act to do all the rehab work now, but wants to hear from the council.

Vandegrift was elected in 2014 and re-elected in 2018. He is passing up a re-election bid next year to run for the state House seat held by freshman Rep. Dan Fister, R-Versailles. Vandegrift is a Democrat but city elections are non-partisan.

County Judge-Executive James Kay and Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott also spoke at the event.

"The state of Woodford County is strong," Kay said. "The state of our union together, as leaders, as governments, as a community, is even stronger." He said the county has the state's lowest unemployment rate, its highest voter turnout and Covid-19 vaccination rates, and its highest level of educational attainment, which may be the most important "because people care about education."

Kay complimented the work of Midway University President John Marsden and his staff and faculty in transforming it from women-only Midway College: "Midway University will be one of the best colleges or universities in the state, for its size, in a few years."

He said the county plans to use its ARPA money for "stimulus programs," including one to help farmers. Referring to a longtime concern in the county, especially the Midway area, he said, "The only way to save agricultural land is to make sure farmers are still farming."

On the downside, Kay said the county is still dealing with the opioid epidemic. "It is one of the most pressing things that we don't talk about in our community." He said the county will start an "Aware Woodford" program to share stories of people in recovery and remove the stigma of substance-abuse disorder.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Midway Christian Church invites all to community dinner

Freeny giving city 14 acres on South Elkhorn Creek

Map shows initially estimated acreage of Freeny property, outlined in blue, which is now measured to be 14.3 acres. Lots in Midway Station are outlined in yellow; unnumbered lot is not platted for development and is now owned by the city.
Mike Freeny and Mayor Grayson Vandegrift shook
hands after the City Council accepted Freeny's gift.
(Photo by John McGary, The Woodford Sun)
The City of Midway will soon own 14.3 acres bordering South Elkhorn Creek that it plans to develop into a recreational site with watercraft access to the kayak, canoeing and fishing stream.

The property will be a gift from Homer Michael Freeny Jr., who goes by "Mike" and has been transforming his farm next to Midway Station into industrial land or, in the case of Brown-Forman warehouses at the back corner, conditional use in an agricultural zone (whiskey being deemed a product of agriculture).

The property will be the city's first on the creek. Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said it is valued at $140,000, or about $10,000 an acre. Land developed for industry in Midway Station has sold for $65,000 an acre; part of Freeny's property is in the floodplain and adjoins a section of Midway Station that was not platted for development because of the terrain.

Freeny is donating the property to the city in return for the council de-annexing 27 acres of his land north of Lakeshore Learning Materials. That made the property more attractive; if it had remained in the city, a pump station would have been required to access the city's sewer system.

Just how the city will develop the property for the public remains to be decided. Vandegrift told the City Council that he expects to appoint a committee of council members and perhaps others to discuss it.

The council authorized Vandegrift to accept the property, which the mayor said would happen once "a few legal things" are accomplished. He said that includes consolidating Freeny's property with the 38 acres of Midway Station along Interstate 64 that the city recently received from the Woodford County Economic Development Authority. That property was also never platted for development.

Vandegrift told Freeny, "I want to thank you for this incredible gift . . . that future generations are going to enjoy." He added, "I wish all developers were like you."

Freeny alluded to criticisms of the proposed luxury recreational-vehicle resort downstream from his property, saying the property "looked like it would be a good place for Midway to develop some recreational facilities without affecting the character and quaintness of Midway."

Housing study: Council member Stacy Thurman, chair of the Housing Committee that Vandegrift appointed more than two years ago, reported on plans to contract with Alison Davis, a University of Kentucky professor who runs UK's Center for Economic Development In Kentucky, for study of housing needs in the city.

Vandegrift said he expects the study will be done in cooperation with Versailles; Mayor Brian Traugott sat in on the committee's Zoom meeting with Davis last week. Thurman said housing needs in the two towns "can't really" be studied separately, but she will talk with Davis about being "Midway-specific." 

Other business: The council approved an event to be held by Verna "Dee" Mason from 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 11 in Walter Bradley Park, which Mason said she is having to thank the many people who have helped her in the past year while she has been battling cancer.

The council heard from the city's new public-works supervisor, Nelson Wright, who asked Vandegrift for an opportunity to get acquainted with council members. "It's a blessing working here," said Wright, who previously worked on parks and streets in Lexington.

Vandegrift said Wright, who grew up in nearby Davistown and still lives there, is "doing a great job." Wright complimented his crew, saying "I was really amazed at the amount of work the guys do. They work their butts off, especially in the summertime."

When Thurman asked Wright what he needed, Wright said the city could use a small excavator to dig graves in the cemetery, which would be more efficient. Vandegrift noted that the council put money in the new budget for such equipment, which he said would probably turn out to be a lease-to-buy deal.

The council heard from Anaris Sickles, a representative of Kroger's "Hometown Pickup" program that delivers groceries to customers at a pickup point in Midway and about 15 other Kentucky towns who place orders online. She said the company wants to get involved in community activities and is looking for ideas. Vandegrift suggested that it help fund playground equipment in the small park at the south end of Gratz Street. 

Council Member Sara Hicks said she used Kroger's service three times but stopped, partly because she got the wrong products even though she asked that no substitutions be made. Also, she said, "I felt a little guilty about not being loyal to Corner Grocery," the common name for Midway Grocery. Kroger's pick-up point in Midway is the parking lot of the church across Northside Drive from the grocery.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Boil-water notice is issued for North Winter Street, First Street, Northridge Drive, and North Winter Court

"A boil-water advisory is in effect for North Winter Street, First Street, Northridge Drive and North Winter Court," Mayor Grayson Vandegrift says in an email. "Approximately 50 homes are affected. A function on private property accidentally hit a water main. Our crew is on site and working to repair the line. I’ll update when we can lift the advisory."

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Forum on RV resort is reset for Sept. 9 so school-bus data can be included in traffic study, mayor says

UPDATE, July 14: Mayor Grayson Vandegrift announced today that he has postponed the forum to Sept. 9, at the request of the developers, so school-bus data can be worked into their traffic study, "as has apparently been requested by" the state Transportation Cabinet. "It was indicated to me that the study would be competed in its entirety by early August, but that is no longer the case and it is best to have all data that could possibly be available rather than incomplete information." He added, "This moves the likely vote to September 20 at the regular scheduled council meeting." The story below has been revised.

Master plan for Kentucky Bluegrass Experience Resort; click on it to enlarge.
The Midway City Council is likely to decide the issue of the proposed recreational vehicle resort next month, following a public forum, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said Tuesday night.

The forum will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9Aug. 5, at Midway University’s Anne Hart Raymond Center, and will be moderated by Tad Long of the Kentucky League of Cities, Vandegrift said in an email.

"The Bluegrass Experience Resort and their counsel will have 15 minutes to present their argument, followed by 15 minutes allotted for Joe Childers, representing some of the opposition," he wrote. "The rest of the forum will be dedicated to public comment. Each commenter will have three minutes to share their feelings on the proposal."

Vandegrift said June 17 that the council would not act until the traffic study for the park was completed. In another email, he said it has not been done, but "My understanding is it will be by then."

He said in the original email that he and council members "will simply be there to listen. We will not respond to any questions or comments that evening. It is very likely that the council will vote on the question of whether the city shall provide water and sewer services to the proposed park or not at our next regularly scheduled council meeting following the forum, which will be Sept. 20 Aug. 16."

Under current city policy, providing water and sewer service would also require annexation. The project, which has more acreage in Scott County than Woodford County, could get water service from Georgetown, but Midway's nearby treatment plant is the only feasible option for sewer service.

Woodford County planning officials have given Bluegrass Experience Resort a conditional-use permit to operate a major tourism destination in an agricultural zone, with 390 RV sites, 56 cottages and 26 accommodations for owners and employees. The Scott County section would have over 500 sites.

Objections have focused on its size and scope; its impact on South Elkhorn Creek, which runs through the property; and traffic issues. Vandegrift has said widening of Georgetown Road "needs to be happening" before the park can open, and there is concern about RV traffic coming through downtown Midway. Developers say they will steer guests from the Bluegrass Parkway to US 127 and Interstate 64.

Vandegrift said June 21 that he had asked the developers to "go back to the drawing board," to no avail.

The Midway Business Association has tentatively voted to endorse the proposal, and MBA President Cortney Neikirk and member Amy Bowman reported after a trip to a similar luxury RV resort in South Carolina that they saw nothing there that would keep them from supporting it.

Scott Hayes pleads guilty to endangering police and EMTs in December standoff, gets five years in prison

Scott E. Hayes of West Higgins Street has been sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to eight counts of first-degree wanton endangerment in a two-hour standoff at his home Dec. 12.

The indictment of Hayes said he waved a loaded gun in the direction of police officers and emergency medical workers, creating a substantial danger of death or serious injury, The Woodford Sun reports.

Hayes, 50, is a former emergency medical technician. He ran a write-in campaign for mayor against incumbent Tom Bozarth in 2010, losing 483 to 104.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Positive coronavirus test prompts mayor to close City Hall to the public Monday; he urges all to get vaccinated

UPDATE, July 12: Thankfully all potential exposures have tested negative for Covid-19. City Hall will resume with normal activity tomorrow. The employee who tested positive is recovering at home and is expected to be healthy and back to work in the next week, once they are medically cleared to do so.

By Grayson Vandegrift
Mayor, City of Midway

Out of an abundance of caution, we will close City Hall to the public tomorrow. There will be an employee working there most of the day if you need assistance.

I learned today that one of our employees has tested positive for Covid-19. We have been conducting our own contact tracing, and no employee working in the field has been exposed. However, one City Hall employee has potentially been exposed and will be tested shortly.

We have offered the opportunity for vaccination to all of our employees, but we have not forced it upon them if they choose not to for personal reasons. It has always been my hope that each and every individual, whether they work for the city or not, would come to the conclusion that getting the vaccine is the safest thing to do.

Unless told otherwise by a doctor, we encourage everyone to get vaccinated. The vaccine is safe, extremely effective, free, and highly accessible. Getting vaccinated will protect yourself and others and will also help prevent workforce disruptions and lost wages. If you’re still unvaccinated, I strongly recommend you consider getting this safe and highly effective vaccine so we can return to complete normalcy and put this virus behind us before other variants are able to replicate.

Once we receive test results from our one potentially exposed employee, I will update on when City Hall will reopen to the public.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Bluegrass Distillers starts consulting process required for turning Elkwood Farm into a tourism destination

The porch added to the Elkwood mansion will be rebuilt and raised slightly, Sam Rock of Bluegrass Distillers said.

The distillery planned for the Interstate 64 interchange has to clear a federal historic-preservation process before it can use a federally funded loan, and it began the public part of that process Thursday.

About 20 people came to Midway City Hall to hear Bluegrass Distillers discuss how it plans to manage the historic features of the former Mitchell farm, especially the Elkwood mansion, built about 1833 and part of the National Register of Historic Places. The mansion is to become a tasting room.

If federal money is used to alter a property that is on the register or eligible for it, the project must go through a consulting process with interested parties. The City of Midway has been approved for a $440,000 community development block grant that will be used to loan Bluegrass Distillers money for equipment, with repayments going to the Woodford County Economic Development Authority.

"Regardless of this procedure we would have done this on our own," Sam Rock of Bluegrass Distillers told the gathering, extending an invitation to become consulting parties in the process. A few hours later, the company did that in writing, with an email to those who put their addresses on a sign-up sheet.

Rock said the the process calls for discussion of potential adverse effects, concluded with an agreement with the consulting parties on how historic resources will be managed and how adverse impacts will be mitigated. He said the company will probably have meeting at the property next week for those who want to be consulting parties, and if that doesn't work, will meet with people individually.

"We want to wrap this up in the next 14 days," he said, noting that the company has "been at it a while." It originally hoped to open this summer. He said material prices have gone up, so the project will be done in phases, but needs to to get foundations poured by fall to they can be open by next summer.

Later, he suggested that starting work on refurbishing the mansion will stop structural damage that is ongoing. He said the porch that was added to the mansion will be rebuilt to facilitate entry by visitors, and will be slightly higher to show the Palladian-style window above the door; a matching window is a the top. The home is believed to have been designed by famed architect Gideon Shryock.

Rock said early work on the mansion's brick suggests that it may need painting, but "That is the last thing we want to do." He said they are "not really doing anything" to the interior of the house, which has solid brick walls.

He said a house identified as servants' quarters will be used for a snack shop, and a cattle barn will be used for community events and perhaps a farmers' market. A tobacco barn at the west end of the property is "in bad shape" and "somewhat dangerous," so its future is uncertain, he said.

Anyone who wants to be a consulting party to the preservation process should email Greyson Evans of the Bluegrass Area Development District (gevans@bgadd.org) and Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift (mayorgrayson@meetmeinmidway.com) in the same email, with the subject line "Midway BG Distillers Section 106." That refers to the section of the National Historic Preservation Act that lays out the consulting process.

"In that email, please provide your name and contact information, and a brief summary on why the project interests you, as well as if you have pertinent information or expertise that you may be able to share," Evans wrote. "Please note that formally being designated as a consulting party does entail a commitment to assist the City of Midway and BG Distillers. We will be announcing a tentative site visit/meeting out on the property in the very near future, and we would ask that consulting parties make every effort to attend. If scheduling conflicts are unavoidable, the BG Distillers team will do their very best to accommodate individual meetings."

Evans added that consulting parties will be asked to attend at least one more meeting, and probably two more, with the city, Bluegrass Distillers and the State Historic Preservation Office, which manages the consulting process.

The SHPO told Vandegrift in a letter dated May 7 that since the building identified as servants' quarters is "only one of the two buildings which may have served as enslaved persons' dwellings [that] has survived, we feel it is of paramount importance for the City of Midway to involve African American Woodford County residents and African American historians to participate in the consultation process."

The letter and several other documents, such as archaeological and architectural reports, the property's National Register listing, renderings, drawings, maps and "pertinent documents that outline the proposed development of the Elkwood property" are in a Google Drive link that Evans provided. He added, "As additional research and information come to light, it will be uploaded in this folder."

Thursday, July 8, 2021

City's Housing Committee to meet at 5 p.m. Monday with possible contractor for housing needs assessment

The city's Affordable Housing Committee will meet at 5 p.m. Monday, July 12, via Zoom.

The chair, City Council Member Stacy Thurman, said the committee will discuss a housing needs assessment with Alison Davis, executive director of the Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky, part of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

"I have spoken with Alison and truly believe that she understands what we are looking for," Thurman said in an email to committee members and news media. "CEDIK is also much more affordable than other options." The new city budget has $7,000 for the work.

Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott will join the meeting to listen and inquire about a study in Versailles, Thurman said, adding, "Please join and ask questions about this process, which I hope will have a big impact on our community for many years to come!"

Since the City Council created it, the committee is subject to the state Open Meetings Act. The Zoom link is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81685581302?pwd=VEZZNWxQSzl1ZGdDaUpJaE9aRUlidz09.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

City will try to find sump pumps connected to sanitary sewers, with cost-share replacement project in mind

116 E. Main has looked much the same since this
photo was taken in April, and Mayor Grayson
Vandegrift says he doesn't expect it to be fixed.
This story has been updated. 

Story and photos by Al Cross
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Midway citizens will be getting a survey asking if they have a sump pump and where its output goes, to help limit illegal discharges into the sanitary sewer system, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift told the City Council Monday evening.

"We're not coming after everybody, but we need them to be aware" that such hookups are illegal, Vandegrift said. "We have no intention of going into anybody's home." He said the survey would not ask for respondents' addresses, just their street or neighborhood, still to be decided.

The mayor said he the only way to solve the problem is a matching grant program, like the one for sidewalk repair and replacement, to get sump pumps off the sanitary sewer system. In the sidewalk program, the city has paid half the cost, up to a certain amount.

Vandegrift said the problem appears to be worst in the Campus Gate subdivision, which he said is the source of sewer overflows from a manhole on Smith Street after heavy rains. He said recent sewer work has alleviated the problem, and the recently completed replacement of the main line leading to the waste water treatment plant should provide more relief.

He said the only overflows from the manhole in the last 18 months came after a six-inch rain on June 11 and after a major rain that followed an ice storm. "That is a remarkable achievement" after 25 years of problems, he said, contrary to "misinformation campaigns" about the issue on Facebook.

Council Member Steve Simoff said many homeowners may not "understand how they work and why it's appropriate to change." Vandegrift agreed, saying they need to understand the difference in storm sewers, which can accept sump-pump output, and sanitary sewers.

Historic building: Council Member Kaye Nita Gallagher asked Vandegrift where Ness Almadari, the owner of the former Odd Fellows Lodge at 116 E. Main St., stands with his plans to renovate the building now that he has stabilized it, under a deal with the city to head off involuntary demolition.

"The people that spoke up said they didn't want to do it, so don't ask me," the mayor replied, referring to the prospect of demolition. "Democracy is decided by those who show up, and those folks who showed up said they didn't want it to be torn down, so we didn't tear it down."

Simoff asked, "So you're saying there's a possibility it could set like that, with the scaffolding, for another 10 years, and we have no power over it?" He asked if the scaffolding on the front of the building, which has been there for just over a year, could be taken down in time for the Fall Festival.

Vandegrift replied, "I think we need to send them a letter giving some kind of timeline at some point. I was intending on doing that. I don't know exactly when that would be." He acknowledged exasperation with the issue, saying people who wanted the building removed should have spoken up. "Folks who had harped about it for years suddenly got quiet about it."

"I do not believe he'll do anything to the building," the mayor said of Alamdari, who has owned the building for more than five years and owns another major building on the north side of East Main.

The building at issue was built around 1900 by the Odd Fellows Lodge, an African American men's organization, at a time when segregationist "Jim Crow" practices were becoming common. It is the largest remaining piece of evidence on Main Street of Midway's Black population, which once was almost half the town.

Asked after the meeting about the possibility of applying for a grant to buy and preserve the building, Vandegrift said "I'd love to see it saved" and said he would look into it, but "I'd want to know how that process plays out with the building owner." If Alamdari wouldn't sell, the city could condemn it and compensation could be negotiated or determined by a lawsuit.

"There's dozens who have reached out that want to buy it, but he won't sell it to them," Vandegrift said. "He won't even hear an offer."

Other business: Vandegrift told the council that Mike Freeny will be at the next meeting to sign over 13 acres he owns along South Elkhorn Creek at the eastern tip of Midway Station, where the city plans to create a public access point to the stream. Vandegrift said it will take a long time to decide exactly what to do with the property.

The council approved closing the north side of East Main Street from 7 a.m. to noon Thursday, July 29, to accommodate a film crew that will be recording commercial material for Toyota Motor Manufacturing Corp. The crew will also need a small number of dedicated parking spaces, said Alan Forbes, a representative of Chuck Strader Films, a Nashville production company.

The council also approved an event permit for the Midway Business Association for the evening of Aug. 20. Because that is a Friday, MBA President Cortney Neikirk said, the north side of East Main would not be closed until 5 p.m. She said the even would have 15 to 20 vendors and a band.

Also approved was an encroachment permit for Tom and Mur Greathouse to set up their annual pumpkin sale wagon in a parking space at 112 S. Gratz St., starting just after the Fall Festival.

The Sara Porter Seed Barn is pictured on May 1, at flower-planting time.
Council Member Sara Hicks said plastic flowers are "creeping" into Midway Cemetery, which does not allow them, but real flowers are blooming at the Sara Porter Seed Barn at the south end of Walter Bradley Park, and all are welcome to pick some. (See update below.) Vandegrift said the barn was named for Porter, who died April 29 of last year, because of a donation $5,000 bequest the city received for it from an heir. her estate.

UPDATE: Park Manager John Holloway reports that the barn was funded by a $6,000 grant from Porter's daughter, Anne Elliott. "Her mom expressed an interest in helping out the park in her will, but Anne made this happen because of her extreme generosity," Holloway writes. "She visited once during construction and is a lovely person.  Also, friends of Sara Porter paid for a memorial tree in her honor, a white oak, which is planted near the barn.  The $6,000 gift paid for construction materials; the labor was free from Doug Farmer, myself and a few other volunteers.  We are using the barn to store tools and materials used in the park. That's been much more convenient than the city 'recycle' building near Midway bakery.  A current photo would show how our landscaping has improved over the past few months."

Holloway also reports, "We are developing a community flower garden in the same vicinity as the barn, which faces Newton Street. But we need a bit more time to get everything ready, so that won't start until Saturday, July 17, when there will be a dedication gathering from 10 to noon.  The flowers will be zinnias, cosmos, and bachelor buttons.  They are planted in rows, like a farm crop, and will be absolutely stunning by the time of the dedication."

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Bluegrass Distillers to hold forum at 6:30 p.m. Thur. to discuss and learn more about history of Elkwood Farm

The Elkwood mansion, built in the 1830s
Bluegrass Distillers will hold a public forum at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 8, at Midway City Hall to "discuss and investigate the cultural history of the Elkwood Farm property" at the northwest side of the Interstate 64 interchange that it is turning into a distillery and tourism destination, the company announced Saturday.

The forum is part of the state historic preservation process, though "a public meeting is not required as part of that process," Sam Rock of Bluegrass Distillers said in an email. "This was an idea we hatched to discover information and involve the community. We hope to find out more information about the property, the role African Americans played in the bourbon and other agribusiness industries in Woodford county, and general history about if and when there were enslaved people on the property. It is information we’d like to know about the property and the industry. We will make the findings part of our tourism experience."