George Oberst Remembered as Artist, Renaissance Man, Public Servant

On Sunday, Mayor Steve Connelly helped dedicate a stone bench to the memory of George Oberst. The stone artisan bench was installed on Artisan Green earlier this month.

Friends, colleagues and neighbors gathered on the Artisan Green in Old Town Sunday to dedicate a stone bench in honor of the late George Oberst. In a ceremony attended by approximately 50 people, Oberst was remembered as a man of many talents, whether it was as a woodworker, stone mason, a folk dance enthusiast and organizer, an avid cyclist, or as a civic-minded citizen who served his community.

Recalling Oberst’s service on the Berea Planning and Zoning Commission, Mayor Steve Connelly recalled an incident in 1993 in which Oberst took the lead in insisting that new subdivisions include sidewalks on both sides of the streets. Up until that time, requirements for sidewalks were routinely waived by the commission. That changed when Oberst began championing the cause of sidewalks, and later, bike lanes. “Now sidewalks have come to be expected amenities, instead of luxuries you are lucky to have,” Connelly told the audience. “Our job now is to dedicate ourselves to the unfinished work that George cared about so passionately. We do so today, in part, with this memorial. We all salute George, appreciate his contributions, and we will be steadfast in trying to keep his memory alive,” Connelly added.


Speaking on behalf of the local dance community, Shirley Carlberg recalled Oberst’s wit and good nature when it came to organizing events for the Contra Dance Association, which Oberst helped found in 1992. Carlberg also noted Oberst went out of his way to welcome and encourage new dancers, and that he was a dedicated supporter of the dance and music community in Berea. Said Carlberg: “It was an honor and a joy to have him as a part of our group. We’ll miss him.”

Dave McFarland (center) recalled George Oberst’s optimism and love for cycling, while Shirley Carlberg (second from right) remembered Oberst’s wit and his dedication to Berea’s dance and music communities.

Addressing the gathering on behalf of cyclists in Berea and Madison County, Dave McFarland remembered George Oberst as man of youthful energy and optimism. “He was 66, had the spirit of a 23-year-old, and the legs of a 32-year-old, and he was the most community-minded person I’ve had the pleasure to be around. George left a happy legacy, and he just left this place we call life a whole lot better place,” said McFarland.

Stone Mason Mark Martin discussed the stone bench with Oberst’s wife, Wendy Satterthwaite, following Sunday’s dedication.

Stone mason Mark Martin, who designed the artisan bench and helped install it, expressed hope that Oberst would have approved of the memorial. “When I came up with the idea, George was looking over my shoulder,” Martin said. “I just like to think that George is grinning when he sees that.” Martin noted others helped bring the project to fruition, including Frank Jenkins, Joe Dinwiddie of North Carolina, Berea contractor Gary Cheeks, as well as McFarland, who lobbied city officials to make the event possible.

Concluding the ceremony, Oberst’s wife, Wendy Satterthwaite, thanked the audience for attending and noted her husband would have been delighted that so many of his friends of such diverse interests were present to honor him. “I think he would have been so tickled by this gathering, with all of his most beloved activities right here: biking, city governance, contra dancing, stone masonry, all assembled together. He really was a Renaissance man,” Satterthwaite said.

Friends and neighbors shared anecdotes about George Oberst, describing him as a faithful friend and as a person who was dedicated to social justice.

Satterthwaite added the location for the bench was especially fitting, since Oberst loved attending the outdoor concerts on the lawn in front of the Berea Welcome Center. Satterthwaite closed her remarks by adding it’s comforting that Oberst, who passed away in March 2016, will continue to be remembered. “We miss him every day, and it helps to know he’s not forgotten,” Satterthwaite said.

After the ceremony, several attendees mounted their bicycles and departed for a bike ride in Oberst’s memory.



Berea Fall Clean-Up Set for Oct. 16-20

fallcleanup.jpgThe City of Berea’s annual fall clean-up coincides with brush and yard waste pick-up, which takes place the third week of every month on regular trash pick-up days.

The City of Berea and Poff Carting will be conducting the annual fall clean-up event during the week of October 16-20. For residents living within Berea city limits, crews will collect a pick-up truck-sized load of trash that is bagged or boxed, and it must be at the curbside by 6 a.m. on your normal garbage collection day.

Those who have bulk items for pick-up but are unsure if it is eligible for the fall clean-up event should call Poff Carting in advance at (877) 288-2981 or (606) 877-7760 to schedule a pick-up date. Collection of those items is free as long as it occurs on your regular trash pick-up day, however, there is a $25 charge to schedule an alternate date.

For a small fee, crews will pick up appliances and furniture including:

Appliances (white goods) ….$14;

Stuffed Chairs…………………..$8.50;

Couches and Loveseats……..$14;

Non-Stuffed Chairs………….$7;

Carpeting……………………$12 per room;

Fencing and Wire……………$2.25 per foot.

All appliances that use Freon must include a certificate that the Freon has been removed by a certified technician. This includes refrigerators, dehumidifiers, air conditioners and freezers. If Freon-using appliances are left for pick-up without a Freon removal certificate, the customer will be charged $50.

The fall clean-up event will coincide with the Berea Public Works Department’s brush pick up, which occurs the third week of every month. Limbs and brush should be stacked off of sidewalks alongside the street, while compost materials, such as grass clippings or wood, should be kept separate from normal garbage or trash.

Public Works Director Dwayne Brumley notes that participating in the fall clean-up and brush collection is an important way residents can keep their neighborhoods looking good while helping to protect the environment. “The purpose of this is not only to help the citizens out, but it’s for the beautification of the city; to make sure it doesn’t end up in illegal landfills, creeks and streams,” Brumley said.

Mayor Designates October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Eef and Mayor2By way of proclamation, Berea Mayor Steve Connelly has designated October 2017 as National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Eef Fontanez (left) received the proclamation Tuesday on behalf of the Berea Human Rights Commission. The proclamation reads as follows:

Whereas: Workplaces welcoming of the talents of all people, including people with disabilities, are a critical part of our efforts to build an inclusive community and strong economy, and

Whereas; in this spirit, the city of Berea, Kentucky is recognizing National Disability Employment Awareness Month this October to raise awareness about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of people with disabilities, and

Whereas, activities during this month will reinforce the value and talent people with disabilities add to our workplaces and communities and affirm our city’s commitment to an inclusive community.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Steve Connelly, do hereby proclaim October 2017 as


In so doing, I call upon employers, schools and other community organizations in Berea, Kentucky to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities, and to advance its important message that people with disabilities are equal to the task throughout the year.”


City Offers Property Tax Discount Through November 30


When it comes to paying local property taxes, paying early or on time definitely has its advantages. Berea city residents can take advantage of a two percent tax discount if they pay by November 30. After that deadline, property owners pay face value, while those paying after December 31 will accrue a penalty of 10 percent, plus 10 percent interest per Annum if the bill is paid after the 31st. If a payment is postmarked by the appropriate deadline, residents will receive the applicable rate.

The City of Berea sent out tax bills on Friday, Sept. 29, and with the temporary relocation of city offices, residents can pay their bills a couple of different ways. Though the new Berea Municipal Police and Fire Safety Building is under construction, those wishing to mail their tax payment can still send it to the former City Hall address at 212 Chestnut Street, Berea, KY 40403.

Residents wishing to pay their bills in person can go to the city’s municipal building at 200 Harrison Road, or they can leave payment in the building’s utility drop box after hours. City offices at the municipal building are closed on November 23, 24, December 25, 26, and January 1. Those wanting a tax receipt should include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with their bill.

The property tax rate remains the same as last year – $0.102 per $100 of total assessed value. Residents who have questions about their property assessments can contact Property Valuation Administrator Billy Ackerman at (859) 623-5410 or by email at

Those wishing to see if their mortgage company has paid their property tax, or to view outstanding Berea property taxes can go to the Finance Department page at


City secures funds for U.S. 25 N. with help from Sen. Jared Carpenter

us25n.jpgBerea motorists know how quickly traffic can back up on northbound U.S. 25 near Sav-A-Lot. That will change, however, after the City of Berea recently secured approximately $8 million in funding to widen the two-lane highway from Ellipse Street to the Berea Bypass. The plan will also include a shared use path for bicycles on both sides of the road.

The scale of the project was in doubt earlier this year when officials from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet asked city officials to scale down the project to $6.2 million. That change would have meant, among other things, elimination of the shared use paths on both sides of U.S. 25 from Highland Drive to the Bypass. But when it looked like the project was going to be scaled down, State Senator Jared Carpenter (District 34) intervened on behalf of the city, requesting that the state’s secretary of the transportation restore funding for the full project. “I told them either they should do it right or not do it at all,” Carpenter said. Frankfort agreed, and the city recently received word that the original plan was back in effect. Berea City Administrator Randy Stone reported last week that the widening of U.S. 25 North will go out to bid in October.

With the restoration of the original plans, the city will be one step closer to realizing the goal of establishing a connected network of bike paths throughout Berea. Cycling is a fast-growing segment of the tourism economy in Kentucky, according to state officials.


Nick Carpenter Honored With John G. Fee Youth Leadership Award

carpenterThe Berea Human Rights Commission’s (BHRC) inaugural John G. Fee Youth Leadership Award was presented to Nick Carpenter Tuesday night at a meeting of the Berea City Council.

Presenting the award was BHRC Chair Mim Pride, who outlined the reasons Carpenter was singled out to receive the honor. Said Pride:

“Nick is an advocate and mentor for those with disabilities, and especially for those with autism. He has organized an awareness campaign and fundraiser to promote autism acceptance. He started a support group for the differently abled, and an autism support group. He actively speaks about autism to groups and civic organizations, and has met with congressional leaders to lobby for laws that benefit the disabled. He has spoken eloquently to this body [Berea City Council], as I’m sure you’ll remember. So congratulations, Nick. You are a model, and we are grateful for the model you provide.”

Carpenter was also a nominee for the 2017 John G. Fee Justice Award.

Mae Suramek Honored with 2017 John G. Fee Justice Award

Mae Mugshot

Berea entrepreneur Mae Suramek was honored Tuesday with the Berea Human Rights Commission (BHRC) John G. Fee Justice Award for 2017. Other nominees included Loyal Jones, Nick Carpenter, Virginia Bland, Mayor Steve Connelly, and Rev. Kent Gilbert.

Presenting the award at a meeting of the Berea City Council, BHRC Chair Mim Pride outlined the reasons Suramek was selected for the honor:

“As the owner/operator of Noodle Nirvana, Mae Suramek has made a commitment to donate a percentage of her profits and tips to a non-profit each year. This year, Ms. Suramek and her team, and you, her customers, raised $30,000 for the New Opportunity School for Women, which focuses on improving the educational, financial and personal circumstances of low income women. Noodle Nirvana also partners with the Madison County Backpack Program, which provides food for children who have been identified as having insufficient food at home. She served as chair of the Berea Human Rights Commission and as director of the Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center. She advocates for social justice, community unity, and equality. But more than speaking for her beliefs, she lives them, and she has made them a part of her business model. We are proud to award the John G. Fee Justice Award for 2017 to Mae Suramek.”

Suramek follows former Berea City Council member Diane Kerby, who was honored with the award in 2016.