• John McGary, Woodford Sun Editor

Soper to step down as EDA chair economic development consultant

At the Friday, Feb. 28, meeting of the Woodford Economic Development Authority, EDA Chair John Soper said he wouldn’t seek another term on the board when his appointment expires June 30 – and won’t ask for a renewal of his consultant contract with the county and two cities that ends July 31. Soper joined the EDA in 2010 and has been chair for the last eight years. Like other EDA members, he is unpaid for that work. In 2016, he signed a contract to provide economic development services for the City of Versailles, with the City of Midway and Woodford Fiscal Court signing up a few months later. In the latest version of the contract, a six-month extension that took effect Feb. 1, Soper is being paid $2,667 a month by the City of Versailles, $1,333 by the City of Midway and $2,002 by the county. He does not receive benefits in the deal. “ … I’m not ready to commit to another four year term (as EDA chair), so basically, I’ll end my chairmanship and membership in the EDA in June and then still be available by contract until July 31 for any transition,” Soper said. He recommended a motion to have EDA Vice Chair Courtney Roberts form a committee with two other EDA members to discuss the chairmanship with Judge-Executive James Kay and the two mayors. The motion to appoint Roberts (a county appointee) and EDA members Maria Bohanan (Versailles appointee) and Michael Michalisin (Midway appointee) to the committee passed unanimously. After the motion, EDA member Maria Bohanan started to thank him for his service, but Soper politely interjected, “We’ll have time (for that). We have a lot of work to do. We’ll deal with that stuff later.” Budget projection Soper handed out a budget projection from Jan. 20 to the end of the calendar year, saying it was really just a worksheet. Among the sources of revenue was $155,000 for the pending sale of lot 32 at Midway Station, $30,066.75 in net proceeds from sale of 6.55 acres of Roach property, and $13,730 from a sale of “temporary workspace” at Midway Station to AT&T. Expected expenses are topped by the $116,000 release fee for lot 32, $62,832 in interest payments on the Midway Station loan, a $25,000 principal payment to the Roach family, and $12,000 for mowing at Midway Station. Bohanan suggested it would be a good idea to notify county treasurer Sabra Garman of current interest totals – which the county would be on the hook for if the EDA was unable to make the payments. Soper agreed, and said the EDA would have enough funds to make this calendar year’s payments. (The City of Midway is liable for the other half of the interest payments, and, like the county, had been making them until last year, when the EDA had sold enough land at the industrial park to make the payments.) “We have to sell more land …” Soper said. A motion to ratify the interest guarantee with the City of Midway regarding payments for the recently refinanced Midway Station loan passed unanimously. Later, a motion to have a request for proposals prepared for a company to market land at Midway Station passed unanimously. Industry Day Soper said the next Industry Day is set for March 10 and will have an estimated 315 Woodford County High School students spending the day at Yokohama, Ruggles Sign, NSG Pilkington, Lakeshore Learning Materials and Quad Graphics. The students will eat a late lunch at Midway University’s cafeteria, and while dining, hear about the school’s offerings from university officials. A motion for preliminary approval of the $2,362.50 estimated lunch expenses passed unanimously. In past years, the involved industries have helped pay meal costs. Woodford County Schools will provide transportation. First Baptist Church shelter Soper briefed the EDA on the shelter project discussed by the Versailles City Council Feb. 18. In that meeting, the council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing a grant application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to build a “multi-use community safe room structure” on 22 acres owned by First Baptist Church at 930 Clifton Road. If the grant is approved, funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency would be used to build a structure using “dome technology” with a capacity of more than 1,600 people that could withstand winds of up to 250 mph. Soper said Versailles does not have a federally-approved emergency shelter and that the city would be reimbursed for up to 87 percent of the cost of the building, which could also serve as a new sanctuary for the church.

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