• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

EDA: Soper praises teachers, industry

At the monthly meeting of the Woodford Economic Development Authority (EDA) Friday, Nov. 17, Chairman John Soper was full of praise for local teachers and the industries where they learned a thing or two. Soper was referring to the Nov. 6 “Teacher Industry Day,” in which about 75 teachers spent their professional development day at Quad/Graphics and Ledvance (formerly GE/Sylvania).

Soper said watching the teachers interact at the two plants and discuss what they’d learned afterwards was inspiring.

“I can’t tell you how much fun I had that day being with a group of professionals who really took to task what we had asked them to do. I think the industries enjoyed showing what manufacturing looks like today, and I think the teachers readily absorbed the opportunities that are available to students …” Soper said.

The program was part of a broad effort by the EDA and other groups to inform high school students of good-paying local industry jobs and help school officials tailor some classes for those type of jobs.

“Just coming back that afternoon and processing with the teachers and just watching them break out into groups ... and then get back together as a group and talk about how they’re going to change their curriculum to incorporate this was remarkable,” Soper said. “It was one of the most fun days I’ve had since I’ve been in this position.” Soper said high school librarian Mona Romine plans to invite plant managers and human resource managers to school to tell students about industry job opportunities – and their pay and benefits.

Soper said children don’t usually know much about benefits like 401ks, health insurance and paid vacation.

“ … I see this happening across the state,” said Paul Schreffler, an EDA member who’s chancellor of the Kentucky Community & Technical College System. “There’s a large effort throughout the country, really, in trying to build some work-based learning (for) students, as well as that connection to teachers, counselors and parents …”

The second annual Industry Day for students will happen next spring, Soper said.

Declining debt

The meeting began with Soper noting the recent $122,422 payoff at Midway Station from the first lot sold in the B-5-zoned portion of the industrial park. Soper said developer Dennis Anderson, who has an option to sell the land in return for paying interest on the park’s debt, sold the land to a convenience store owner for a price close to $690,000. The EDA’s cut reduces the debt on the Midway Station bond to $3,308,305.24, which stood at $6.247 million in late 2004.

“We are also on notice that … Anderson is anticipating the closing around Dec. 1, for 5.7 acres – it’s about four different lots – in the B-5. We do not know what his intent with that is …” Soper said, adding that there’d been no request to the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning commission for a final plat for the land.

That sale should help lower the debt by around $600,000, Soper said.

Other matters

The EDA unanimously approved a resolution giving Soper or Vice Chairman Mike Coleman the authority to sign deeds after they’re approved by attorney Bill Moore.

The group also unanimously approved an option agreement with Homer Michael Freeny for 104 acres near Midway between Brown-Forman’s barrel warehouses and Midway Station. The terms of the option weren’t discussed, but Soper said the property would be zoned industrial.

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