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

Building Safety Month: Check your street address

Foreground: Codes Enforcement Administrator Amanda Haney accepts the proclamation for Building Safety Month 2022 from Berea Mayor Bruce Fraley as members of the Berea City Council look on (from left), including Steve Caudill, Jerry Little, Cora Jane Wilson, John Payne, Katie Startzman, Teresa Scenters and Jim Davis. Not pictured: Ronnie Terrill.

City of Berea Codes Enforcement Administrator Amanda Haney urged residents to make sure their street address numbers are clearly visible, part of a public campaign for Building Safety Month in Berea.

Accepting a proclamation from Berea Mayor Bruce Fraley, Haney noted the role local codes offices play in keeping people safe. That includes helping residents ensure their addresses are clearly marked so they can be found by police, fire and EMS personnel.

“The job of the codes office is life safety,” Haney said. “And we play an important role in the safety of our structures and in fire prevention.”

Haney stated city residents will soon be receiving a door hanger or small flyer tucked in their utility bills reminding them about the correct specifications for street numbers, including:

  • Address numbers should be visible from the street;  
  • Consist of half-inch thick letters;
  • Be a minimum of four-inches tall.

“This proper identification will not only ensure you receive your Amazon packages and your mail deliveries, but also will save crucial time for first responders when seconds count,” Haney said.

The precise wording of the Building Safety Month proclamation signed by Mayor Fraley was as follows:

Proclamation – Building Safety Month

WHEREAS, the City of Berea is committed to recognizing that our growth and strength depends on the safety and essential role our homes, buildings, and infrastructure play, both in everyday life and when disasters strike; and

WHEREAS, our confidence in the resilience of these buildings that make up our community is achieved through the devotion of vigilant guardians – building safety and fire prevention officials, architects, engineers, builders, tradespeople, design professionals, laborers, plumbers, and others in the construction industry – who work year-round to ensure the safe construction of buildings; and

WHEREAS, these guardians are dedicated members of the International Code Council, a non-profit that brings together local, state, territorial, tribal and federal officials who are experts in the built environment to create and implement the highest quality codes to protect us in the buildings where we live, learn, work and play; and

WHEREAS, these modern building codes include safeguards to protect the public from hazards such as hurricanes, snowstorms, tornadoes, wildland fires, floods and earthquakes; and

WHEREAS, Building Safety Month is sponsored by the International Code Council to remind the public about the critical role of our communities’ largely unknown protectors of public safety – our local code officials – who assure us of safe, sustainable and affordable buildings that are essential to our prosperity; and

WHEREAS, “Safety for All: Building Codes in Action,” the theme for Building Safety Month 2022, encourages us all to raise awareness about planning for safe and sustainable construction, career opportunities in building safety, understanding disaster mitigation, energy conservation, and creating a safe and abundant water supply to the benefit of us all; and   

WHEREAS, each year, in observance of Building Safety Month, people all over the world are asked to consider the commitment to improve building safety, resilience and economic investment at home and in the community, and to acknowledge the essential service provided to all of us by local and state building departments, fire prevention bureaus and federal agencies in protecting lives and property;  

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Bruce Fraley, Mayor of the City of Berea, KY do hereby proclaim the month of May 2022 as Building Safety Month. Accordingly, I encourage our citizens to join us as we participate in Building Safety Month activities.

Berea Tourism tallies successes for 2021-2022

The 2021-2022 fiscal year has been challenging for the city of Berea Business and Tourism Development Department, but despite emerging from the global pandemic, tourism managed to tally some accomplishments, said officials.  

During the director’s report at last week’s business meeting, Donna Angel took a moment to reflect on the tourism-related achievements of the department, including:

  • The Chestnut Street Pavilion was funded, completed, and is now being rented out for public use.
  • Tourism fully funded the Silver Creek Bike Park, which has already drawn cyclists from out of town who have staged mountain bike riding classes.  
  • The Mitchell Tolle Building and Berea Hotel were paid off at the urging of Commissioner Charles Arnold, saving tourism money on interest.
  • Tourism helped dedicate the intersection of two national bike routes, putting Berea at the bicycle crossroads of America.
  • The Berea Craft Festival returned after a pandemic hiatus, bringing guests into town from around the United States and giving local artists a market to sell their work.
  • Tourism helped dedicate Boone Trace Health Trail, a collaboration between Berea College and the city of Berea to provide more recreational opportunities for both citizens and visitors.
  • Hosted six regional conferences.
  • Welcomed 30 motorcoaches visiting Berea, facilitating presentations by local musicians and artisans.
  • Revived the Berea LearnShops in the fall of 2021, staging 18 days of courses that served over 300 participants.
  • Staged and promoted Mayor’s Merry Mingling Event at Christmas.
  • Supported 300 local events in Berea, whether it was community happenings, job fairs, or promotions for small businesses.
  • Gained recognition for Berea in 14 different publications, some of which touted Berea as an ideal destination for a hometown Christmas or as a great “staycation” site.
  • Staff participated in television interviews as the city was promoted by 12 TV anchors, re-enforcing Berea’s unique identity as “the Folk Arts and Crafts Capital of Kentucky.”  Additionally, Berea was highlighted on four other TV shows.
  • Tourism supported three festivals and the Berea Christmas Parade, events that brought in visitors, boosting local commerce.

Concerning the Chestnut Street Pavilion, the commission heard remarks from Jacque Bowling, who again expressed her opinion that the facility is not suitable for public use as it is currently constructed. Bowling maintains the pavilion is unsuitable for inclement weather. Officials have maintained the suitability of the pavilion is a matter of opinion.

On Monday, Angel noted that public rental of the pavilion began as of May 1, and that it was recently used by a party from Berea College for a year-end event.

While the city has arranged for the pavilion to be the permanent home of the Berea Farmer’s Market , staging markets on Tuesdays and Saturdays, officials maintain the intent of constructing the facility was also to provide a venue for private events, such as family reunions, outdoor concerts, private parties, and other uses.

Berea Mayor Bruce Fraley, meanwhile, has expressed hope that the Chestnut Street Pavilion and Tolle building renovation will spur economic development in the area. So far, at least one entrepreneur has announced plans to convert the former Mario’s Pizza building into a new business. Officials recently revealed Just Love Coffee Café, a national coffee chain, will open in the Mario’s building later this year.   https://justlovecoffeecafe.com/ Just Love Coffee Cafe is the second national coffee chain to announce pending location in Berea, joining Scooters.

Apart from economic development, Commissioner Richard Thomas stated he was pleased to see the public can now use a facility that they funded with restaurant tax dollars.

 “The Pavilion is intended for multi-purpose, multi-group,” Thomas said. “We’re very pleased the Farmer’s Market is there, but we want the pavilion to be used as much as possible to support as many activities in Berea as possible.”

In the past, some criticized the Berea Tourism Commission for not spending enough of the restaurant tax revenues and transient room tax funds for projects that benefit local citizens as well as visitors.

That has changed in recent years, in which the commission has dedicated restaurant and transient room tax funds to benefit local recreation and activities, such as the shared use paths, the mountain bike park, the Chestnut Street Pavilion, and the Tolle Building, an event space that will also be available for public use.

“We are always trying to look for ways to spend our money so that it impacts local and citizens and also attracts tourists,” Thomas said. “I think promoting the town of Berea is our main job. But we also have to recognize that some of the people who pay the restaurant tax are local people. So, where we can see that money being spent on infrastructure that benefits both (citizens and tourists), we should do both.”

Officials said $175,000 is projected to be collected for the transient room tax, while the restaurant tax projected to yield $1,100,000 for the city.

Berea honors Public Works Department

The City of Berea Public Works Department was honored Tuesday in accepting a proclamation commemorating National Public Works Week, which runs May 15-21.  

The measure signed by Berea Mayor Bruce Fraley and affirmed by the city council recognizes the crucial role the Public Works Department plays in maintaining the safety and quality of life in Berea, including facility and infrastructure maintenance, snow removal and severe weather clean-up, maintenance of water and solid waste systems, and other vital contributions.

Public Works Director Roy Curtis, who’s been in that position since last fall, thanked his staff, including Mildred Madsen, who Curtis said keeps the office running.

“A lot of people don’t think of what all they do throughout the year,” Curtis said of his staff. “It’s been an honor to work with them. It’s a good crew, and they’re the ones who make the department function.”

Curtis presented three new staffers to the council, including Logan Dees, who was present at Tuesday’s meeting, as well as Brendon Gregory and Tyler Arbuckle.

The entirety of the proclamation presented by Mayor Bruce Fraley read as follows:

National Public Works Week Proclamation

May 15-21 2022 “Ready and Resilient”

WHEREAS, public works professionals focus on infrastructure, facilities and services that are of vital importance to sustainable and resilient communities and to the public health, high quality of life and well-being of the people of Berea, Kentucky; and,

WHEREAS, these infrastructure, facilities and services could not be provided without the dedicated efforts of public works professionals, who are engineers, managers, and employees at all levels of government and the private sector, who are responsible for rebuilding, improving, and protecting our nation’s transportation, water supply, water treatment and solid waste systems, public buildings, and other structures and facilities essential to our citizens; and,

WHEREAS, it is in the public interest for the citizens, civic leaders and children in Berea, Kentucky to gain knowledge of and to maintain an ongoing interest and understanding of the importance of public works and public works programs in their respective communities; and,

WHEREAS, the year 2022 marks the 62nd annual Public Works Week sponsored by the American Public Works Association/Canadian Public Works Association,

BE IT NOW RESOLVED, I, Bruce Fraley, Mayor, do hereby designate the week of May 15-21, 2022, as National Public Works Week, and I urge all citizens to join with representatives of the American Public Works Association and government agencies in activities, events, and ceremonies designed to pay tribute to our public works professionals, engineers, managers, and employees and to recognize the substantial contributions they make to protecting our national health, safety and quality of life.

IN WITNESS THEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the City, done at Berea, Kentucky this 17th day of May 2022.

Berea proclaims Older Americans Month

In the foreground, Berea Mayor Bruce Fraley presents the Older Americans Month 2022 proclamation to author and senior advocate Jeff Reuben. Looking on from behind the bench were Berea City Council members Jerry Little, Steve Caudill, Cora Jane Wilson, Katie Startzman, John Payne, Teresa Scenters, and Jim Davis.

The city of Berea recognized the contributions of older Americans Tuesday night, declaring May 2022 as Older Americans Month.

At the business meeting of the Berea City Council, author and senior advocate Jeff Reuben was on hand to accept the proclamation, noting that when Older Americans Month was first proclaimed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1963, there were 17 million older Americans in the United States. One third of those were estimated to live at or below the poverty level, Reuben noted.

The population of aging Americans has since grown to 55 million, and is projected to reach 70 million in the next decade, Reuben said. One study, meanwhile, stated a third of senior citizens polled have concerns about outliving their financial means, Reuben noted.

Reuben encouraged Mayor Bruce Fraley to introduce the proclamation as a way to affirm a commitment to finding ways to help aging citizens stay engaged in their communities and “age in place,” meaning living in their homes for as long as possible.

“People are living longer, and people want to remain active and engaged, and the purpose of this proclamation is not only to draw awareness to what people did do, but what they can do, both now and in the future,” Reuben said. “We stand on the shoulders of the people who came before us. We need to recognize that. We need to honor that, and we need to give people an opportunity to remain engaged for as long as possible.”

In introducing the proclamation, Mayor Fraley recognized the work of local non-profit Berea Home Village, led by Executive Director Katie Heckman, which helps Berea’s older citizens stay in place by providing them with transportation for shopping, medical appointments and errands, as well as other services that allow them to stay in their homes for as long as is feasible.  

 The proclamation read as follows:

“WHEREAS, Berea, Kentucky includes a growing number of older Americans who contribute their strength wisdom, and experience to our community; and

WHEREAS, communities benefit when people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds are welcomed, included, and supported; and

WHEREAS, Berea, Kentucky recognizes our need to thrive and live independently for as long as possible; and

WHEREAS, Berea, Kentucky can work to build an even better community for our older residents by:

Planning programs that encourage independence.

Ensuring activities are responsible to individual needs and preferences.

Increasing access to services that support aging in place.

Now, therefore, I, Bruce Fraley, Mayor of Berea, Kentucky do hereby proclaim May 2022 to be Older Americans Month. I urge every resident to recognize the contribution of our older citizens, help to create an inclusive society, and join efforts to support older Americans’ choices about how they age in their communities.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the City, done at Berea, Kentucky, this 17th day of May 2022.”