Wednesday, December 29, 2021

A few dozen free, at-home Covid-19 tests are available at Railroad Drug, to people exposed or with symptoms

Test available at drug store
A very limited number of free, at-home tests for the coronavirus are available at Railroad Drug & Old Time Soda Fountain on Main Street between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. today and Thursday and 9 to 12 Friday.

"We ask that only people who are experiencing virus-like symptoms or those who have been exposed to a Covid-19-positive person request a test kit," Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said in announcing the offering. "We are also limiting these to one per person to spread their use out as best as possible.

The Woodford County Health Department has made 84 tests available, Vandegrift said. "We are not restricting who can receive one, because every Kentuckian who is armed with the knowledge of whether they are carrying covid-19 is a victory against the virus. However, Midway and Woodford County citizens are getting the jump on this information," he said. "We ask folks to be considerate that supply is still low and demand high, so please understand that these will not last long. We also remind everyone that Railroad Drug is simply helping us distribute these, so please show them patience and consideration as well."

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Message from the mayor: Jan. 7 last day for leaf pickup

We’re picking up leaves later than normal this year since the leaf season started later. Our last day for pickup will be Jan. 7, then we will put the leaf vacuum in the shop for service. --Mayor Grayson Vandegrift

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Winners of Woman's Club holiday decorating contest

Here are the winners of the Midway Woman's Club's 17th annual holiday decorating contest:

Best overall design: 219 Cottage Grove

Best daytime display: 241 W. Higgins St.
Best business decorations: Holly Hill Inn,426 N. Winter St.
Most colorful display: 116 W. Stephens St. 
Most whimsical lights: 238 W. Stephens St.

Best Decorated Porch: 268 W. Stephens St.
Best front door: 206 Gayland Drive
Most fun decorations: 221 Johnson St.
Most creative lights: City Hall, 101 E. Main St.
Best decorated fence: 116 Cottage Station Rd.

Best indoor tree: 304 S. Winter St.
Best wreath: 408 Merrywood Dr.
Best Christmas spirit: 219 W. Higgins St.


Most Animated Display – 107 Ann St.

Best Spirit of Woodford County – 222 East Cross St.

Best Traditional Decorations – 129 Old Towne Walk

Best Outdoor Tree –.124 South Gratz St.

Clark Griswold Power Outage Award – 217 North Winter St.

Best Inflatables – 222 East Stephens St.

Special 2021 17th Anniversary MWC Holiday D├ęcor Judging Award – 219 Gayland Drive

Best Silly Show Display – 138 Carriage Lane

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Mayor blames KU for cost overrun on sewer project, asks council to spend relief money on big water tower

Diagram from more than a year ago shows location of sewer project.
By Al Cross
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Discussions of big expenses for water and sewer work occupied most of the Midway City Council's half-hour meeting Monday night.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift reported that replacement of the sewer main leading to the treatment plant cost $119,000 more than the bid, a 53 percent overrun, because the city had to relocate the line and hit rock.

He said the relocation was caused by Kentucky Utilities, which would not allow the city to rebuild the line through a KU easement. The utility offered an alternative, moving eight or nine of its poles at a 
cost of $12,000 to $15,000 per pole, but the city rejected that possible cost of $96,000 to $135,000.

"We hit as thick a rock as you could imagine . . . so it became extremely time-consuming," Vandegrift said, making the cost $344,000 instead of the bid of $225,000. He said the city, which is in "truly fantastic financial shape," will pay the bill from its General Fund "and move on to the next project."

"If I had to do it all over again I would have made the same decision," the mayor said. "It was an extremely successful project," improving flow at the treatment plant and reducing sewer overflows.

The next two big projects for the city are 25-year cleaning and maintenance of its only operating water tower and construction with the county of a combined fire and ambulance station, both in Midway Station. The tower work is estimated to cost $550,000; an estimate on the building is expected soon, but Vandegrift said it would cost more.

The city is getting $490,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act, the latest pandemic relief bill passed by Congress, and Vandegrift wants to use all the money for the water tower. The remainder would come from the city's share of ARPA money that the county plans to use for water systems.

Vandegrift said his plan would allow the city to do the work without going into debt. With debt financing, he said, the project would be paid off in seven to eight years. He said the fire-and-ambulance building will be debt-financed with the county.

Council Member Logan Nance said the building, and the 24-hour ambulance coverage it would provide, are a greater need for the city right now and should get the relief money.

Vandegrift said "That is certainly an option. We’re gonna do both of these projects one way or another. It doesn’t make a huge difference to me how we spend the cash." He said no decision was needed at the meeting, and the council could decide "when we get more into the financials of the building." In the meantime, he said, "Let's hear from our constituents."

In response to a question from Council Member Steve Simoff, Vandegrift said the governments have a site plan and architectural design for the building, and are waiting for a deal with Midway Station's mortgage holders so the site can be used.

The site is part of the "property owners association" land that was part of the original mixed-use plan for Midway Station by the Woodford County Economic Development Authority. Now the development is almost completely industrial, and the property owners don't want those POA responsibilities, so EDA granted the 38 acres to the city, but at least one of the banks holding the mortgage says it is due mortgage-release fees for the property, even though it was never platted for development.

Friday, the council and the county Fiscal Court met with the EDA board to to discuss refinancing of the Midway Station loan to clear the way for the POA deal. The motion for the closed session said it was to discuss possible land purchases and sales, one of the exemptions to the state Open Meetings Act. After the closed session, which lasted 54 minutes, no action was taken.

Vandegrift told the council that he expects to present a new "POA deal" for approval at the council's second meeting in January.

Ga-ga ball pit (from Heather McColl via Midway Musings)

Other business: The council donated $1,300 to the Northside Elementary School PTO for a ga-ga ball pit, matching donations that have been collected for another. Ga-ga ball is a derivative of dodgeball.

The council also approved a permit for a May 15 road race to raise money for the PTO to buy other playground equipment and fund programs at the school.

Simoff said Aaron Littrell of Midway took a crew to Mayfield to help clear tornado damage, plans to go again in January, and is seeking financial help for the trip from the city and citizens. The mayor and council reacted favorably.

"I'd like to see the City of Midway help out the City of Mayfield," Vandegrift said. Nance said, "I grew up in that area of the state so I’d like to see us help out in some way. . . . This city never ceases to surprise me in its generosity. . . . It gives me hope for our future."

As the meeting neared its end, Vandegrift urged renewed caution due to the threat of the super-contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus. "Everybody’s tired of hearing about Covid . . . but it’s not tired of us," he said. "It's those that are not vaccinated that I am so concerned about. . . . We have to try to be as careful as we can, even those of us who are vaccinated, to avoid being hosts for it."

The meeting was held via Zoom due to a recent rise in coronavirus cases. That day, Woodford County's seven-day infection rate was 37.4 daily cases per 100,000 residents; the rates for adjoining counties were: Anderson, 33.3; Fayette, 38.2; Franklin, 46.2; Mercer, 40.4; and Scott, 41.1. A rate above 25 puts a county in red on the state infection map, indicating a high level of transmission. All but 16 of the 120 counties were in red Monday; the statewide infection rate was 45 per 100,000.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Mayors, judge-executive, other officials to discuss roles, other topics in Facebook 'town hall' meeting at noon Fri.

Woodford County has three governments, for the county and the cities of Midway and Versailles, but it's more complicated than that. Each government has a legislative body and an executive, and there are independently elected county officials who perform specific functions.

With an election year coming up, several elected officials will discuss their work in a "town hall" meeting on the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce's Facebook page from noon to 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17.

Speaking will be Mayors Grayson Vandegrift of Midway and Brian Traugott of Versailles, County Judge-Executive James Kay, Midway City Council Member Stacy Thurman, county Fiscal Court Magistrate Mary Ann Gill, Jailer Michele Rankin and County Clerk Sandy Jones of Midway.

They have been asked to introduce themselves, describe their role, the qualifications for each office, its election schedule, and matters of current interest.

This is the latest in a series of town-hall meetings with local government executives, started in 2019 and expanded this time to include other officials. This one is co-sponsored by the Woodford County Library.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Holiday decorations to be judged at 6:30 p.m. Friday

City Council, Fiscal Court to meet with EDA Fri. morning

The Midway City Council and the Woodford County Fiscal Court will meet with the Woodford County Economic Development Authority board at 8:30 a.m. Friday via Zoom to discuss Midway Station.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said in an email, "It’s to discuss the refinancing of the Midway Station loan, which we’re going to do a year early, as a way to satisfy the banks, finish the POA deal (without release fees), and keep the momentum going on the new Fire/EMS station as well as to beef up future sales with rezoning the remaining commercial to I-1."

POA is the acronym for "property owners association" land along Interstate 64, which was never platted into lots and was to be the responsibility of all the property owners in what was to be a mixed-use development. Midway Station is now almost entirely industrial, and property owners don't want the responsibility, so EDA has granted the land to the city. However, at least one of the banks holding the mortgage on the property has said it is due mortgage-release fees for the 38 acres.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Midway University presents its alumni awards

J.J. Housley
The Midway University Alumni Association recently presented its annual awards to Dr. J.J. Housley and Shannon Muhlenkamp.

Housley received the Distinguished Alumni Award, presented to a graduate who merits special recognition for outstanding career achievement and community service. Housley is the assistant chief and external affairs/senior director of health system network operations at UK HealthCare.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Health Care Administration from Midway in 2011 while also earning his Master of Business Administration from the University of Kentucky that year. He then earned his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from UK. He is a member of the Midway University Board of Trustees.

Shannon Muhlenkamp
Muhlenkamp was honored with the Ruth Slack Roach Memorial Award. The honor was established in memory of Mrs. Roach, a long-time friend, former trustee, and supporter of the university. It is presented to a graduate who has demonstrated community service in the same spirit as Roach exemplified throughout her life. Muhlenkamp, a former member of Midway's nursing faculty, was a long-time volunteer on the alumni board and served as president.

She received her Associate of Science in Nursing degree from Midway in 1995. She has a bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing and is in the doctoral program for Instructional Leadership in Nursing Education at the University of Alabama.

Information for this story came from a Midway University press release.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Children 5-11 can get Covid-19 shots at library Thursday

The Midway Branch Library and the Woodford County Health Department are partnering to offer free coronavirus vaccinations for children 5 to 11 years old at the library from 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 16. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be used. Each child will receive a free T-shirt and holiday craft kit, and snacks will be available. To schedule an appointment, scan the QR code in the graphic or go to https://kyvax.wildhealth.com/.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Board of Adjustment delays decision until Jan. 3 on proposed RV resort's request to treat its own sewage

Section of revised master plan shows proposed location of sewage-treatment plant. Click image to enlarge.

By Al Cross
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The Woodford County Board of Adjustment voted 3-1 Monday night to delay until Jan. 3 a decision on the proposed recreational-vehicle resort's request that its permit allow its sewage be treated by a package wastewater-treatment plant. But two of the five members were openly skeptical of the idea.

Board Members Lonnie Estes and David Prewitt said they needed more time to review information that Kentucky Bluegrass Experience Resort had given them that evening about the proposed treatment plant, which would discharge treated wastewater into South Elkhorn Creek.

Member Ken Winkfield voted with Esters and Prewitt to delay action, but said he thought the board "did the right thing in May," when it required the resort to have municipal water and sewer service as part of its conditional-use permit to operate a tourist destination in an agricultural zone.

Board Chair Tim Turney, who both spoke and voted against the delay, also said, "I am reluctant to change what we've already done. . . . I have some doubts with this treatment plant."

Midway's member of the board, Bart Shockley, was in Chicago for work, Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift noted at the end of his remarks to the board.

Vandegrift joined with the mayors of Versailles and Georgetown, the Scott County judge-executive and the head of Georgetown's water system in a letter opposing the resort company's request.

"We know that these package plants are an insult to cities," Vandegrift said, saying that fast-growing Scott County had spent $20 million to clean up sewage problems left by such plants, and that Midway or Woodford County would have to take over responsibility for the resort's sewage if its plant failed.

Vandegrift also objected to the resort company's plan to have the plant operated remotely by a certified operator: "The idea of operating it remotely is dangerous, and frankly, it's an insult."

Bethany Baxter of Lexington, attorney for nine Midway-area citizens opposed to the resort, said package plants have a history of failures "causing environmental disaster. . . . History has taught us lessons enough that these risks are just too high." 

The company's attorney, Hank Graddy of Midway, said the plant is more advanced than plants that have caused such damage, and said resort developer Andrew Hopewell "intends to live downstream from this facility . . . so it's important to him that it's state-of-the-art."

The company's consulting engineer, Patrick Deming, said the "sequencing batch reactor" plant made by EarthTek of Batesville, Ind., is "the best and most environment-friendly solution."

Kevin Chaffeee of EarthTek said that his discussions with the state Division of Water about use of the plant for another project that didn't go through led him to believe that the division would approve it. He said they are "much higher quality than plants you see going belly-up."

Chaffee said some of the company's plants in Ohio discharge into stream beds that are often dry, and "That water has to be pretty clean." He said the plants, which are usually buried to keep them warm in winter, aerate sewage in large tanks, then let microbes break it down. After solids fall to the bottom, the water is treated with ultraviolet light to kill remaining germs and taken off the top of the tank, he said.

Chaffee didn't say what happens to the solids, but Turney said after the meeting that he inspects private wastewater-treatment plans for a living and that the solids are flushed out and used elsewhere.

Baxter reiterated her clients' request for a delay, if not denial, of the resort's request for a change in its permit, and said the board should listen to the other citizens who voiced their opposition at the meeting and "know the best interests of the community."

Midway City Council Member Logan Nance said there was no definite plan for the plant, just the requirement that it be state-approved. "There's way too much at risk here for us to approve this," he said.

The council voted unanimously in October to deny the resort company's request for city water and sewer service, prompting the firm to line up water supply from Kentucky American Water Co. and ask the Board of Adjustment to let the resort have its own state-approved treatment plant.

Council Member Sara Hicks said Midway had "resoundingly" rejected the resort, and echoed the concern of Vandegrift and others that a conditional-use permit was issued at all. "How conditional is it once the 99 acres in Woodford County are covered with asphalt, concrete and gravel?" she asked.

Mike Feeback of Midway questioned the resort's estimate that it would need to treat up to 100,000 gallons of sewage per day, and questioned whether it would also handle wastewater from the Scott County side of the project.

Graddy said the plan now "completely omits development in Scott County," and the reduced size of the project "is viable with guest accommodations in Woodford County alone." He said the resort's compliance with the 16 conditions in the permit would be subject to annual review by the board.

But Michael Mitchell, who lives west of the site, said that review would not "turn back time" and "we all know humans make mistakes."

On the other side, Margie Atwood, who lives on Georgetown Road next to the proposed resort entrance, said "I think the RV park would be fantastic" and "I have no problem with it at all."

Turney said the board had received many emails and letters from people on either side of the issue. He closed the public hearing on the application, and after the vote to delay action he said the closure means that the board can receive no more written comments and should not discuss the application with anyone, but "We can do our own investigation."

Heavy rain (2.6 in. at Lexington) raises S. Elkhorn Creek

South Elkhorn Creek at the Weisenberger Mill Bridge was in flood this afternoon at 3:30. The National Weather Service reported 2.6 inches of rain at the Lexington airport as a cold front moved through. Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said no sanitary-sewer spills were recorded.

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 reject the application and not consider it 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 at pwilson@woodfordcountyky.gov.

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" 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.

Bluegrass co-owner Sam Rock said the first batch of Midway Distilling products are four-year-old 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.