Help keep the median beautiful

The Mentelle Park median is our entire neighborhood’s front yard, a place for playing, walking dogs and hosting annual events such as the Easter egg hunt and fall picnic. Thanks to Third District Council Member Jake Gibbs and Mayor Jim Gray’s administration, the median has new curbs on the west side. Now, it needs some repair and improvements, which will be done with a $1,500 grant from Kentucky American Water Co. to compensate for damage done during water main construction a couple of years ago.

To plan and execute this work, and to help keep the median beautiful, the MNA is forming a Median Committee, headed by Jill Debolt.  Do you like nature and plants?  Please consider serving on this new committee.  Time commitment will be minimal.  Please contact Jill ( or 859-309-2022) if you are interested in serving or have any questions.

Trees Lexington! fundraiser Saturday

 Trees Lexington! is a new non-profit organization working to increase Lexington’s urban tree canopy. One of the founders, our 3rd District Urban County Council member Jake Gibbs, is inviting everyone to the organization’s first fundraiser Saturday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at West Sixth Brewing. The brewery is donating 6 percent of receipts that day to Trees Lexington! and that amount will be matched by Big Ass Solutions.

At the fundraiser you may:

  • Cast your ballot for Lexington’s Official Tree.
  • Ask an arborist questions.
  • Bid on silent auction items.

The event is free, but donations are appreciated.

Among the things Trees Lexington! is working on now:

  • Fruit trees for the garden at The Hope Center
  • Trees for Habitat for Humanity houses
  • Creating a tree canopy at the new Frederick Douglass High School

If you can’t make it Saturday, you may still make a tax-deductible donation. Send your check, made out to Trees Lexington!, to Jake Gibbs at 220 Delmar Ave., Lexington, KY 40508. Donations also can be made online at the Blue Grass Community Foundation website:

For more information about Trees Lexington!, see its website here

Great crowd for architecture talk

Thanks to everyone who planned and attended today’s talk by architectural historian Janie-Rice Brother about the Mentelle Neighborhood’s building styles. The Bell House room was filled for her informative and entertaining lecture. Afterward, Brother discussed individual houses with residents who brought photographs with them.

My house is a what? Learn more Sunday.

As one of Lexington’s first suburban residential developments of the 20th century, the Mentelle Neighborhood has a wealth and variety of period architecture. Come to the Bell House, 545 Sayre Ave., this Sunday, Nov. 5, from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., to learn more about it.

Janie-Rice Brother, a senior architectural historian at the University of Kentucky who lives on Aurora Avenue, will give a presentation about our neighborhood’s styles. She is a knowledgeable and entertaining speaker who writes the Gardens to Gables blog about vernacular architecture in the region. She will be happy to identify and discuss your house’s style if you bring along a photo.

Here’s a preview:

“The story of suburbanization – the spread of residential communities on the outskirts of a city  – in America is a fascinating one. The streetcar suburbs that began forming in the late 19th century formed the foundation for the post-World War II suburbs that spread like wildfire (think ranch house, ranch house, ranch house). The Mentelle Neighborhood provides a perfect snapshot of the types and styles of domestic architecture that swept across neighborhoods in Kentucky from the late 19th century to World War II as cities grew outwards. 
I’ve lived in two early 20th century suburbs in Lexington, and the breadth of historic house types in the Mentelle and Kenwick neighborhoods continues to delight me on a daily basis. 
Although the rise in homeownership was not as dramatic as would occur in the post World War II period, this neighborhood came of age at a time when scores of people were moving into single-family homes for the first time – and the new housing types and styles seemed tailor made for the occasion. The bungalow, which is the predominant type in the neighborhood, was the antithesis of the Victorian architecture that preceded it. I’ll talk about types, plans, stylistic choices (or the seeming lack thereof), and how these growing early suburbs reflected societal changes in America.”

Light refreshments will be served. See you there.

Report from the annual meeting

The Mentelle Neighborhood Association’s general membership meeting was Wednesday evening at Ashland Elementary School. President Ann Olliges opened the meeting at 6:35 p.m. and everyone introduced themselves.

Treasurer Richard Coles reported that the association has $6,105 at Peoples Exchange Bank, of which $1,530 is earmarked for landscape repairs to the Mentelle Park Median. (Those funds came from Kentucky American Water Co., whose contractors contributed to the damage.) He also reported that the association has 81 lifetime members and 7 annual memberships that are expiring. He said the MNA can now accept payments by PayPal, allowing for membership application and payment via the website.

Board Member Elaine Cook spoke about her work planting trees in the neighborhood and her recent organization of a workshop about caring for our street trees led by the Urban Forest Initiative.  She also said that $600 left over from the 2017 neighborhood street tree plantings will be used to plant new trees on the Mentelle Park median and that a tree at Ashland School will be included in the 2017 Street Tree Project.

Social Secretary Jessica Mohler talked about 2017 social events, including the Easter egg hunt and the chocolate and wine event at Ruth Hunt Candies.

Board Member Bethany Baxter introduced candidates for the nine board positions and asked if any other names should be added to the election slate. Nobody put their name forward, so Bethany distributed ballots and every household present got a vote. Votes were counted and these people were elected:

  • President: Ann Olliges
  • Vice President: Linda Worley
  • Secretary: Tom Eblen
  • Treasurer: Richard Coles
  • At-large board members: Jessica Mohler, Katie Martin, Shelby Reynolds, Bethany Baxter and John Helfenberger.

Elaine Cook withdrew her nomination for re-election to the board because of time constraints, but she graciously agreed to continue working on neighborhood tree projects.

Past President Shelley Fortune spoke about how she needed to resign the presidency in May after her husband was deployed in the military. She also discussed plans for organizing a home and garden tour in the summer of 2018 as an MNA fundraiser.

Sam Rock described his idea for the neighborhood to adopt a flag design that neighbors might enjoy flying from their porches. He had seen the idea in an Atlanta suburb where he used to live.

Linda Worley spoke about a Nov. 5 history program planned at the Bell House.  Janie-Rice Brother, a senior architectural historian at UK, will speak about architecture in the neighborhood.  Linda also said she and Shelby Reynolds are preparing an update to the Mentelle Field Guide. This neighborhood directory update will be issued as an insert. Any updates, edits or new members should get their information to Linda or Shelby as soon as possible.

Shelby spoke about the ongoing noise problems coming from Cosmic Charlie’s on National Avenue and what has been done to try to mitigate them. He reported that Cosmic Charlie’s has been citied for three noise ordinance violations and paid fines of $250 for each event.

Former Secretary Liz Reucroft, a member of the Ashland Elementary School PTA, thanked neighbors for donating time and money to build a new playground. She added that the school is having its Fall Festival on Nov. 3. The festival is open to the public, so please come and support our neighborhood school.

Bill Fortune spoke about speed tables being installed on Bullock Avenue. Similar speed tables can be seen on Richmond Avenue. He described the process for getting them, but he warned that the city officials sometimes don’t approve them because they make access more difficult for emergency vehicles.

Nov. 5 program will explore neighborhood architecture

My house is a what?

Janie-Rice Brother, a senior architectural historian at the University of Kentucky and an Aurora Avenue neighbor, will give a presentation about architecture styles in the Mentelle Neighborhood on Sunday, Nov. 5, from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Bell House, 545 Sayre Ave.

Brother is a knowledgeable and entertaining speaker who writes the Gardens to Gables blog about vernacular architecture in our region. She  will be happy to identify and discuss your house’s style if you bring along a photo. Light refreshments will be served. Hope to see you there.



Cardinal Valley needs kids’ coats

As leaves begin to change color and temperatures cool, many of us prepare for winter. Teachers at Cardinal Valley Elementary School begin to look for coats, hats and glove for their students.

Ninety seven percent of Cardinal Valley’s 700 students are on free or reduced-price lunch. Many students are learning English as a second language and, as such, face language barriers in getting resources.

If you would like to donate a coat, gloves or hats for the school’s annual coat drive, it would be greatly appreciated. Coats should be sized for children ages 4-12. Items can be brought to the Mentelle Neighborhood Association General Meeting on Oct. 25 or dropped off on the front porch at 721 Aurora Ave. (Ann Olliges’s house).

Thank you for your consideration and help in keeping these students warm this winter.

MNA annual meeting is Oct. 25. Board nominations due by Oct. 15.

The Mentelle Neighborhood Association’s annual meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25 at Ashland Elementary School. All association members are encouraged to attend. Information about joining the association can be found here. Dues are $10 per year or $50 for a lifetime membership.

The meeting will include a recap of the past year’s activities, a discussion of plans for the next year, an opportunity for members to contribute ideas and express concerns, and the election of officers and board members for the coming year.

Over the summer, Shelly Fortune stepped down as president because of added family and professional responsibilities. The board elected Ann Olliges to serve out Shelly’s term. Ann took the lead in organizing the neighborhood yard sale July 22 and the neighborhood picnic Sept. 17. Ann will be seeking a full term, and other officers are seeking re-election. But Shelly and Elaine Cook are not seeking re-election to the board, which leaves two board vacancies.

All offices and board seats are up for re-election annually, and any association member is eligible to submit his or her name for the ballot. If you are interested in running for the board or a specific office, please email secretary Tom Eblen no later than 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15, to have your name included on the ballot. Nominations also may be made from the floor.


Thanks for a great picnic!

Thanks to everyone for a fun and successful Mentelle Neighborhood picnic Sunday. About 125 people came for delicious food, conversation, great music — and even a fire truck!

Special thanks to Grill Master Eddie Owens; David Ponder and his band; the firefighters of the Lexington Fire Department’s Woodland Park Station; and Ann Olliges, who led the organization team.

A few dishes were left behind. If one of them is yours, email Bethany Baxter to arrange to pick it up.