• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Community needs forum held

Two months after the idea was brought up by Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott at a city council meeting, people in the business of helping the needy met at the Woodford County Senior Citizens Center Tuesday. More than 50 people attended, including at least two students from Woodford County schools. The goal, according to Susan Hughes of the Blue Grass Community Action Partnership, was "to obtain feedback from the Woodford County community about the needs within the community, and services that are offered." Using recent U.S. Census data, Traugott outlined the difference in income and poverty levels in Versailles and the rest of the county: . Outside of Versailles, including Midway, the per capita income was $32,930. In Versailles, it was $24,652 - 25 percent lower. . Outside of Versailles, the poverty rate was 6.8 percent. In Versailles, it was 19.2 percent - almost three times higher. Traugott said the city of Versailles has bought a domain name (www.versailles.cares) and hopes to purchase a domain name (www.woodford.cares) that will list the wide variety of public, state, local and private help for the needy. The sites will be linked to the city's website and also include, with their permission, local non-profits, churches, civic groups, and businesses that lend a helping hand. Last month, Traugott said the city of Midway and Woodford County governments will be invited to link to the websites, too. Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said the perception of Midway, too, was that of a community filled with well-paying jobs and wealthy people, but the reality was different. He reiterated his desire for intergovernmental meetings with the Versailles City Council and Woodford Fiscal Court. State Rep. James Kay cited three spheres of influence that must be coordinated to help the needy: faith, business and government. "When those spheres work together in concert, we can address any need that we face," Kay said. Midway City Council member Sara Hicks asked why the local Meals on Wheels program didn't serve Midway, and said Midway children who could take part in the federal summer food service programs had to get to Versailles to do so. "We need a county-wide program for county-wide poverty," Hicks said. Chelsea Borgeson, family resources coordinator for Simmons and Northside elementary schools, said she saw the needs of underprivileged children every day. "I know there's lots of resources out there, so if we can all kind of connect and help each other to help our kids and families, that would be wonderful," Borgeson said. Thirty minutes into the meeting, after introductions from most of the attendees, people began linking their needs with others' offerings. Becky Trent, who helps people sign up for the Affordable Care Act through Blue Grass Community Action, noted that applicants need an email address. She asked if the Woodford County Library could help with that, to which Becky Munoz, the youth services librarian, said yes. Bev Logan with Woodford County Adult Education spoke of clients who study English as a second language. Cassaundra Cox of Woodford Head Start said, "I have four of them." The meeting ran from 5:40 p.m. and lasted until 7:25 p.m. Traugott called the meeting a good first step, saying, "To me, it underscores the need for what we're trying to do."

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