Soper: Quad/Graphics for sale
The Versailles City Council was the setting Tuesday for a major announcement by John Soper, the city’s economic development contractor: Quad/Graphics, the city’s largest employer, is for sale. Soper said he chose the venue because news of the sale was becoming public knowledge. He said Quad/Graphics was “getting out of the book business” after an attempt to buy a larger company was shot down by the U.S. Justice Department over antitrust concerns. As a result, the company will have to pay a $45 million “exit fee,” and would be packaging its Versailles plant and two others for sale, he said. Soper gave reasons for optimism for the 600-plus people who work there – that the company had invested $85 million in new equipment over the past few years, and that he knew of no planned employment changes. Earlier in the meeting, Soper brought up potentially positive news for the city: investors seeking to open what he called a “boutique” hotel/restaurant/distillery in downtown Versailles in an existing building. Soper asked the council to join the Woodford Economic Development Authority, which he chairs, as an applicant and initial funding source for a community development block grant. Under the motion, which passed unanimously, the city would pay the EDA $300,000 to buy equipment for the venture – money that would be paid back by the state Department of Local Government using federal funds. Revenue from the unnamed company would be used to open a revolving fund that the EDA would use to recruit other businesses to Versailles. After the meeting, Soper said because the company is seeking other state incentives, he was unable to say how many hotel rooms would be in the building the company is seeking to buy. He did say a total of 15 jobs would be created. Recycling change The council voted unanimously for a motion to revise the city’s franchise agreement with Central Kentucky Hauling and allow the company to pick up garbage and recycling on the same day. The company is presently picking up recycling two days a week. The change will take effect Jan. 6 and be preceded by advertising in the Sun and other public notices, including some by the Public Works Department, according to Kerry Loy, the company’s general manager. Council Member Mike Coleman asked if there would be additional charges for the same-day pick-up, to which Loy said no, and then acknowledged the move was to the company’s benefit, too. The move aligns the city with the county, which has same-day garbage and recycling pick-up. $300,000 for downtown pavilion The council unanimously passed a motion by Council Member Ken Kerkhoff to earmark $300,000 for the proposed downtown pavilion and amphitheater project. Kerkhoff said the move was necessary to qualify for grants and convince potential investors of the city’s commitment to the plan. Council Member Fred Siegelman asked about the possible use of the soon-to-be-empty Versailles Police Department headquarters as a business incubator. Kerkhoff said the matter hadn’t been raised in committee meetings dealing with the pavilion. Next council meeting Traugott announced that the council’s regularly scheduled Nov. 19 meeting will be moved to Thursday, Nov. 14 at 4:30 p.m. as a special meeting. Christmas tree search Public Works Director Bart Miller ended the meeting by announcing the city was looking for a Christmas tree. He said Spruce, Fir, Pine and other evergreen trees were being considered, and the tree would need to be about 20 feet tall, conical, without double trunks and with no bad sides. The city will cut down the tree, pull up the trunk and fill the resulting hole with dirt, he said. People with such a tree can call Paul Simmons at (859) 873-5436, ext. 127.