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Midway council discusses public bathroom

Near the end of their meeting Monday night, the Midway City Council discussed a longstanding proposal for a downtown public restroom. The matter was raised at the Oct. 5 city council candidate forum sponsored by the Midway Woman’s Club, with that topic and other questions devised by students at the University of Kentucky’s rural journalism class.  Councilmember Stacy Thurman said she’d been approached by the Midway Business Association (MBA) to help the group look into options and wanted the council’s input on whether she should do so. Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said he thought she should, but brought up several potential problems with building and maintaining a public restroom. He said the closure of City Hall to the public – a decision he made to protect the health of the city clerks and prevent City Hall from being a place where the coronavirus could be spread – made the problem seem bigger than it is. Vandegrift said while he wasn’t against the idea, he didn’t know where it should be located or the cost of building and maintaining the facility. A contractor would probably be needed to clean the restroom daily, he said. A proposal to build one on the grass next to the railroad tracks would not be approved by CSX, which owns the land, and another to build one on the back of City Hall would carry an “astronomical cost,” he said. Thurman said she didn’t disagree with any of his points, but thought the idea should be further explored and that she was happy to be a liaison between the council and the MBA. Vandegrift said he told Cortney Neikirk, president of the MBA, that the group should consider taking money from its Midway Fall Festival fund to help pay for the restroom. Councilmember Sara Hicks, as she did during the candidate forum, said the city could purchase an automated, self-sanitizing unisex bathroom, though she acknowledged it wouldn’t be cheap. Lexington School The council voted 5 to 0 for a resolution authorizing and providing for the issuance of up to $5 million in municipal bonds on behalf of The Lexington School, which Vandegrift said has students from Midway. Councilmember John Holloway was absent. Two years ago, the school reported having 13 students and 19 staffers from Woodford County. In 2018, the school’s bond attorney said the issuance will allow the school to get more favorable rates than those offered by traditional loans. Vandegrift said the city will not be at risk if the school has trouble repaying the bonds and that the city’s $15 million annual bonding capacity will not be threatened by the move. Backpacks The council voted 4 to 0 to approve a donation of $500 to Midway Baptist Church’s backpack meals for children program. Councilmember Logan Nance, a member of the church, abstained. Free flu shots Vandegrift said he was working with the state Department of Public Health on a free flu shot clinic at Midway Christian Church Nov. 12 from noon to 4 p.m. Up to 200 people can receive the vaccines and they don’t have to live in Midway, he said

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