Jerry Little urges citizens to work with the city when it comes to infrastructure repair

Berea Gutter Construction
Workers pour new gutters and sidewalks along U.S. 25, a mostly state-funded, $8 million investment in Berea. But while new infrastructure is added, the city works to maintain older infrastructure as well.  

Who is responsible for streets, curbs, and other infrastructure in the greater Berea area? It’s not always clear, as Berea City Councilman Jerry Little pointed out Tuesday night. Little raised the issue during a report about the activities of the city’s Public Works Committee.

In recent months, one group of citizens has complained that the city is not maintaining its infrastructure, Little said.  But some of the time, the infrastructure in question is not actually the responsibility of the City of Berea, he added. He noted that some infrastructure, for example, is on private property. Or, in some cases,  property has been annexed into the city, but the city does not have easements to work on issues like drainage, said Little. That can lead to confusion among the public. “Sometimes the city gets blamed for things that are out of our control,” Little noted.

As chair of the Public Works Committee, Little said much of Berea’s infrastructure is aging, but that the city is making an effort to keep up. “We can’t take care of all the problems. We try to take care of what is most needed, because we just don’t have the manpower to take care of everything,” Little said.

Little recommended devising a new system for handing infrastructure complaints, then recording and prioritizing them. In the meantime, he urged patience. “We’re trying to do the best job we can and we’re trying to address all the problems. Just try to work with us and we’ll try to work with you to get things done.”

According to a report released last year, the City of Berea has invested over $20 million in major infrastructure projects since 1997, including upgrading the city parks and improving roadways in the industrial park.

 

                                                 CITY OF BEREA MAJOR PROJECTS
PROJECT DATE PROJECT DESCRIPTION FINAL PRICE
1993 Berea Community Park $  2,300,000.00
1993 Intergenerational Building $     350,000.00
1995 Landfill Closure $   4,000,000.00
1998 Sidewalk Project (Various) $        93,077.99
1998 Valley/Boone St. Drainage $       112,725.50
1998 Forest St. Drainage Project $         48,347.96
1999 Glades/1016 Intersection $       225,032.00
1999 City Hall Renovation $       500,000.00
2000 Post Office Renovation $       903,507.77
2001 Glades Road Reconstruction $     1,834,261.75
2002 Logston Lane Reconstruction $       119,613.38
2002 N. Broadway Reconstruction $       737,508.12
2002 Intergenerational classroom add. $       102,280.00
2003 Boone Street $       190,112.12
2003 Ball Field Refurbish $         73,723.05
2004 Shirley Street Reconstruction $         95,434.75
2004 Glades/Rash Rd. traffic signal $         49,000.00
2004 Ellipse/Jefferson Traffic Signal $         33,345.00
2005 Utility and Public Works Build. $       655,000.00
2005 Park Storage Bldg. and Office $         49,900.00
2006 Maintenance Garage $       185,810.00
2006 Blythe Court Reconstruction $         99,223.00
2007 Shortline Pike Reconstruction $       405,315.75
2007 Chestnut Street Park $    331,698.00
2007 Forest /Center Street Intersec. $         54,287.00
2007 Boone Street Improvements $       238,000.00
2008 McKinney Right Turn Lane $         23,538.65
2008 Berea Industrial Sewer Line $       286,626.96
2008 Industrial Pk. Rd. (Farristown) $       874,805.00
2008 Jane Street Connector $       184,205.90
2008 Mayde Road Reconstruction $     2,339,900.00
2009 1016 Sidewalk (Cemetery Hill) $       139,515.75
2010 Park Expansion Contract #1 $     1,049,999.75
2010 Park Expansion Contract #2 $       651,610.40
2010 Park Expansion Contract #3 $       162,926.00
2010 Prospect St. Reconstruction $     2,253,978.00
2011 Welcome Center Renovation $       535,352.00
2011 Baldwin Street Bridge $         36,509.00
2011 Folk Center Roof $       118,836.00
2012 Shortline Pike Extension $       179,223.88
2012 Menelaus Pike Design $       414,005.00
2013 Mayde Road Bike Path $       109,415.00
2013 Prospect Street Lighting $         26,203.00
2013 Folk Center Kitchen $         81,294.00
2013 Menelaus Road Utility relocate $         77,137.76
2014 Bratcher Lane Reconstruction $     1,074,733.25
2014 Pumphouse Chemical add. $         11,615.00
2014 Indian Fort Trail and Bridge $       377,631.00
2015 Water Street Drainage $       291,183.26
2017 Richmond Road Design $       687,883.00
2016 Ford Building Renovation $         33,185.00
2016 Food Bank Addition $         76,042.00
2016 Salt Bin Expansion $         17,702.00
2016 County Clerk Renovation $       101,301.00
2017 Cumberland/Hughes Street $       277,585.00
2018 Filtration refurbish $         40,000.00
2018 Splash Pad at Berea Pool $       225,000.00
2018 Berea Community Stadium $      225,000.00
TOTAL $ 26,771,145.70
1997- Present Total $ 20,121,145.70

Lung Cancer most fatal form of cancer in Berea

Noting that lung cancer is the most fatal cancer in the City of Berea, the Berea City Council joined Mayor Bruce Fraley last week in proclaiming November as Lung Cancer Awareness Month. The document was read during Tuesday’s virtual meeting of the Berea City Council and reads as follows:

 “In Recognition of Lung Cancer Awareness

Whereas, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States and in Berea in 2020, accounting for more deaths than colon cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer combined;

Whereas, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 411 new lung cancer cases and 281 deaths because of lung cancer between 2013 and 2017 in Madison County;

Whereas, the 5-year survival rate for localized lung cancer is 59%, yet only 17% of lung cancers are diagnosed at this stage;

Whereas, screening for lung cancer for high-risk individuals using low-dose computed tomography can lead to the earlier detection of lung cancer and save lives, reducing the mortality rate by 20% when compared to screening by chest x-ray in the National Lung Screening Trial and reducing the risk of death at 10 years by 24% in men and 33% in women as demonstrated by another large randomized trial;

Whereas, funding for lung cancer research trails far behind funding for research of many other cancers, and additional research is needed in early diagnosis, screening, and treatment for lung cancer as well as in lung cancer affecting women and lung cancer health disparities;

Whereas, women diagnosed with lung cancer are more likely to be younger and never-smokers, lung cancer incidence and mortality rates in women are rising relative to men, more women die from lung cancer than breast cancer every year and by 2035, it is expected that more women will die from lung cancer than men;

Whereas, organizations working in the Berea community, such as the American Lung Cancer Screening Initiative and Women’s Lung Cancer Forum, are committed to educating about lung cancer and lung cancer screening and working to increase lung cancer screening rates in Kentucky.

Therefore, I, Mayor Bruce Fraley, and the Berea City Council, do hereby proclaim November as Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and recognize the need for research in lung cancer affecting women and lung cancer health disparities, and encourage all citizens, to learn about lung cancer and early detection through lung cancer screening.”

City of Berea urges support of Small Business Saturday

UpdateAdd title

File photo: Artisan and woodworker Tim Wade, owner of the Cabin in Old Town, has been gearing up production in anticipation of the holiday shopping season. Local leaders are urging residents to participate in Shop Small Saturday on November 28, supporting Berea merchants by shopping locally.

Berea city leaders are urging residents to support local businesses this shopping season beginning this weekend with Small Business Saturday. Saturday’s event is part of a national initiative that recognizes the importance of small businesses in the health of America’s economy. 

At last week’s meeting of the Berea City Council, Councilman Jim Davis continued to urge support of local businesses. In the past, Davis has urged residents to support local businesses during the reconstruction of U.S. 25 N. and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Davis urged the same last week, noting that money spent in Berea in local businesses is money that stays in the community.

“I’d like to remind everyone to shop small, and shop locally this Christmas season, because money spent during this time of the year is what makes or breaks a lot of our local businesses. So once again, shop local and shop small,” Davis said.  

Councilman David Rowlette reminded residents that not all business owners have store fronts, and that those with online businesses need support, too. “Of course we want to support our local businesses. But keep in mind that not all of these businesses have storefronts. Many of them have online businesses that are very successful but they kind of fly under the radar. Seek some of them out for your holiday gifts and things,” Rowlette said, suggesting Berea merchants as an alternative to large online retailers.

The discussion about local businesses was sparked by a proclamation introduced by Mayor Bruce Fraley, noting the this Saturday, November 28, 2020, is typically recognized as Small Business Saturday. The proclamation reads as follows:  

“Small Business Saturday

Whereas, the City of Berea celebrates our local small businesses and the contributions to our local economy and community; and according to the United States Small Business Administration, there are 30.7 million small businesses in the United States, representing 99.7% of all firms with paid employees in the United States, which are responsible for 64.9% of net new jobs created from 2000 to 2018, and;

Whereas, small businesses employ 47.3% of the employees in the private sector in the United States, 62% of U.S. small businesses reported that they need to see consumer spending return to pre-COVID levels by the end of 2020 in order to stay in businesses, 65% of U.S. small business owners said it would be most helpful to their business to have their “regulars” return and start making purchases again, and three-quarters of U.S. consumers are currently looking for ways to shop small and support their community, and;

Whereas, 96% of consumers who shopped on Small Business Saturday agree that shopping at small, independently-owned businesses supports their commitment to making purchases that have a positive social, economic, and environmental impact and 97% of consumers who shopped on Small Business Saturday agree that small businesses are essential to their community, and;

Whereas, 95% of consumers who shopped on Small Business Saturday reported the day makes them want to shop or eat at small, independently-owned businesses all year long, not just during the holiday season, and;

Whereas, the City of Berea supports our local businesses that create jobs, boost our local economy, and preserve our communities, and;

Whereas, advocacy groups, as well as public and private organizations across the country have endorsed the Saturday after Thanksgiving as Small Business Saturday,

Now, therefore, I, Bruce Fraley, Mayor of the City of Berea, do hereby proclaim November 28, 2020 as Small Business Saturday in the City of Berea, and urge the residents of our community and communities across the country to support small businesses and merchants on Small Business Saturday and throughout the year.”

Work on Berea’s multi-use pavilion project is underway

Work has begun on Berea’s multi-use pavilion, a project that will serve both local citizens and visitors to town, according to city officials.

This week, workers from Omni Commercial Construction installed a fence around what was formerly the Ford dealership parking lot, located at the intersection of Chestnut Street and Mt. Vernon Road. Crews will soon begin resurfacing the parking lot, preparing it for concrete, and they’ll be assembling the frame of the 2,500 foot structure in the coming months. The project will also include two large shade structures near the pavilion. Completion date is expected to be in May of 2021. 

“We’re optimistic and hopeful it will be open during the farmer’s market growing season. Hopefully by that time we’ll have a vaccine and a handle on COVID-19, and we can have some of the other events we planned for this,” said Mayor Bruce Fraley.

Well over half of the approximately $565,000 cost for the multi-use pavilion will be paid for with government grants. Working with the Berea Farmer’s Market, Berea College, Grow Appalachia, the Berea Tourism Commission, and several citizens, the city landed a $350,000 state grant from the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy and a $100,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development division. The remaining balance of the cost will be paid for by the Berea Tourism Commission from revenues derived from the restaurant tax and the transient room tax.

Fraley noted one selling point of the project was that it is something that will positively impact the region, instead of just the city. The facility will serve as a permanent home to the Berea Farmer’s Market, the second oldest farmer’s market in the Commonwealth, drawing farmers and consumers from surrounding counties. But it will also be a public space accessible to local citizens. Other uses officials foresee for the pavilion include a facility for concerts and other performances, a venue for seminars and classes hosted by the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Office, and as a space that can be rented by private citizens for things like family reunions and celebrations. Fraley expressed hope that the pavilion can also serve as a venue to showcase the works of local artisans, such as hosting Berea Maker’s Market and similar events.

Mayor Fraley also believes the pavilion can be an engine for future economic development.  “We thought this would be something good for the community since so many people shop at the local farmer’s market, but also for people in surrounding counties, where people come to the Berea Farmer’s Market to buy fresh, pesticide-free produce. That brings people from out of town, and whether they are from Michigan or a surrounding county, those visits help our local businesses,” Fraley said.

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 epidemic and the state’s pension issues, the city persisted in bringing the project to fruition. When it seemed that interest from state officials could fade because of those other factors, local citizens and organizations worked together and helped send the message that the multi-use pavilion was a worthy community project. 

“This was really a project that everybody supported. When the vision of a multi-use pavilion was presented, everybody seemed to be really eager and enthusiastic about pursuing it and building it,” Fraley said. “That show of support was important to the decision makers that hand out these grants.”

Fraley said he believes the multi-use pavilion will likely spur more economic development in the area. First, it will draw traffic and possibly investment to what was once a vibrant business area south of Chestnut Street along U.S. 25 South. However, the refurbishing of the former Tolle Building will also have an impact. The Berea Tourism Commission has plans to refurbish the facility to become the Berea Welcome and Events Center. The center will eventually have a room that will hold 70-100 people, big enough for wedding receptions, banquets, small convention events.

 “We’re also hopeful that it can draw convention business – small groups that are convening that may want to choose Berea over a several day period, which helps our hotels, restaurants, retail, and really all small business,” Fraley said. “We can begin with something that will attract tourists and visitors to town, but will also be available to our citizens of Berea for their use for events – weddings, meetings, and even indoor markets. It will be a community asset and a gathering space and event location for decades to come,” Fraley said.

On Wednesday, City Administrator David Gregory updated members of the Berea Tourism Commission on the project, noting the city will soon be seeking their input on various elements of design for the pavilion. In the meantime, a security fence has been installed at the site in anticipation of the beginning of construction, which could begin as early as this week.

“I’m just excited. It’s been a long time coming and we’re finally seeing some progress being made,” said Gregory.

Gregory also noted the city is operating under revised budget numbers, since the original design was projected to cost $587,000. The city subsequently rebid the project, thus reducing costs. That development drew praise from commissioner Richard Thomas. “Bringing this project in under budget was quite a feat, I believe,” Thomas said. “I know we rejected their initial bids and rebid it, and it sounds like all that paid off. Good job, David.”

Gregory, in turn, thanked commissioners for their input in helping to reduce projected costs.

AppHarvest bringing high-tech, green agriculture jobs to Berea

Ready to roll. Construction equipment is lined up at the AppHarvest construction site next to Farristown Middle School. The proposed 15-acre indoor greenhouse will produce leafy green vegetables all year around, and the facility will create jobs in high-tech, sustainable agriculture.

For the second week in a row, the City of Berea welcomed a new high-tech employer to the Berea Industrial Park, as AppHarvest announced plans to open a 15-acre, environmentally sustainable indoor greenhouse. The facility will be located next to Farristown Middle School.

In a Monday ceremony that included city, county, state and Berea College officials, AppHarvest Founder and CEO Jonathan Webb cited Berea’s unique identity and its proximity to Berea College as reasons for bringing the facility to the city.

“Why this community? Why Berea? This is one of the most special communities period in our country. Definitely in Kentucky,” Webb said.

Webb noted the facility will produce leafy green vegetables using a computerized production process that will reduce consumption of water by 90 to 95 percent. Employing a pesticide-free, closed loop irrigation system, the Berea plant can grow vegetables all year around, and is located within a day’s drive of 70 percent of the United States, thus reducing the energy needed for transport.

The Berea facility will be one of three large operations in central Kentucky, the largest being in Morehead, and the other near Speedwell in Madison County. The Madison County plant will employ approximately 300 workers, officials said. There has been no former announcement on how many will be employed at the Berea operation.

Webb noted that one effect of growing high-tech, indoor agriculture is that it will allow American consumers to be less dependent on foreign countries for produce. Webb cited farms in Mexico, which use far more pesticides than are allowed in the United States, and which employ child labor, making it difficult for American producers to compete. Operations like AppHarvest, however, can bring agriculture jobs back to Kentucky in a way that promotes environmental sustainability and makes American farming competitive.    

“There’s been a lot of struggle to get to this point. Our region has a moment to lead,” Webb said. “It’s going to take universities, community colleges, and high schools to make us a lot more than a leafy green facility, but a symbol of where we can all go together,” Webb said.

Mayor Bruce Fraley addressed the audience, noting the building of the AppHarvest plant is the start of what he and others believe is Kentucky’s new era as a leader in high-tech agriculture.  

“I would have never imagined that the City of Berea would become part of a revolution in agriculture that will forever improve the supply chain of fresh vegetables to the Eastern United States, but here we are,” Fraley said. “We are here today with a visionary leader of the ag-tech industry, Jonathan Webb and his team, and we are, in fact, a part or their revolutionary vision of the future of agriculture.”

Fraley continued: “I want to thank Jonathan Webb and the AppHarvest team for choosing Berea, for investing in our community, for providing jobs that will diversify our economy and improve the quality of life for Bereans for generations to come.  We welcome you as a community partner and pledge our support in helping AppHarvest succeed.  We are proud to be your partner and we look forward to being part of the agriculture technology revolution!”

Berea College President Lyle Roelofs addressed the crowd, noting that the new AppHarvest facility will provide opportunities not only for the college community, but for the region and the nation.

“AppHarvest comes to our state and our town, bringing an approach that can work at the scale of big agriculture, but without all of those flaws,” Roelofs said. “AppHarvest makes efficient use of water resources, operates chemical free, and locates itself so that shorter transportation to markets can be achieved. The whole region will benefit by their access to healthy, high quality produce, sustainably grown and transported.”

Congressman Andy Barr, State Representative Deanna Frazier, gubernatorial advisor Rocky Adkins, and State Senator Jared Carpenter all praised the leadership of both the county and the city for helping spur economic development. Said Barr:  “The one thing I’ll say about our mayor, Mayor Fraley, is that ever since he’s taken to this office, he has a passion for the people of Berea. It’s there every day that he works. This groundbreaking is similar to many other groundbreakings that are happening in southern Madison County, and it happens because of leadership that believes in economic development, whether it’s Novelis, whether it’s Hitachi, whether it’s a Hyster-Yale, or whether it’s an AppHarvest, we have a mayor who understands that to build the tax base, to build economic opportunity, you’ve got to be pro-business, and that’s what we have in our mayor.”