Novelis, Berea Celebrate $2.3 Million Production Expansion Project

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Novelis Plant Manager Ramon F. Romero cuts the ceremonial ribbon with the help of Berea Mayor Steve Connelly. Novelis celebrated a $2.3 million expansion project that bolsters the plants aluminum recycling production and added new jobs.

Team members from Novelis and several leaders in business, industry and government joined in celebrating the completion of a $2.3 million expansion project that has increased production and added jobs to the aluminum recycling facility In Berea.

 

Novelis’ Mayde Road plant is the world leader in aluminum recycling production, transforming cans and other recycled metals into approximately 700 million pounds of product in 2016. Novelis’s Berea plant specializes in producing aluminum ingots.

Wednesday’s celebration officially marked the completion of the expansion project, which included adding a new truck weighing scale and the hiring of eight new employees. The project was completed in October. With the changes, Novelis has been able to speed up its processing time, potentially moving 1,200 more trucks through the facility than previous years. With the change, Novelis is aiming to increase overall aluminum production by 50 million pounds per year, according to Novelis Operations Leader Mike Sarver.

In remarks before the ceremonial ribbon cutting, prominent Novelis officials, including Marco Palmeri, Senior Vice President and President, Novelis North America, and Ramon F. Romero, Plant Manager of the Berea facility, recognized the value of the company’s investment in Berea while noting the positive working relationship Novelis has enjoyed with the community. The company supports educational projects in Madison County and a number of area non-profits, including Sustainable Berea and Habitat for Humanity among others. Novelis employs 138 employees, contributing $12 million in wages, benefits, and revenue to the local economy.

Berea Mayor Steve Connelly noted the latest project makes an important statement about both Novelis and the state of the local economy. “This is an important milestone for Novelis and Berea,” Connelly said of the company’s investment. “This is a commitment that underscores the long-term values of the community including robustness, innovation, recycling, and sustainability. The continued presence and the investment that we recognize today demonstrates to the world what a true public/private partnership between a company and a community can achieve.”

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Officials Aiming to Use New Stadium for 4th of July Celebration 2018

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After consultation with the Berea Independent School District, the City of Berea is getting closer to finalizing plans for new bleacher facilities at Duerson Stadium in Berea City Park. City leaders note the concrete stadium, which has since been taken down and recycled, will be replaced by aluminum bleachers, which will be anchored on a concrete slab. Additionally, officials are trying to determine if the new facility will include an aluminum press box. As for the timeline for completion, Parks and Recreation Committee Chair Tom Schultz noted during a recent Berea City Council meeting that the hope is to use the new stadium for the annual 4th of July celebration in 2018. That would also allow the Berea Pirates Football Team to return to their home field next season. The original concrete stadium was condemned and demolished in 2016 after inspectors determined it was unsafe. The new field configuration will allow the school to use the facility for football, soccer, possibly lacrosse, as well as public events.

Quick Facts About the Proposed Berea Dog Park

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To the far left, the paved path leads to Harrison Road and the parking area at Berea Municipal Utilities. At the top, the proposed dog park borders the 4th hole of the Berea Country Club, as well as a metal shed that was part of the now-decommissioned sewer facility. The cost of the three-phase project has yet to be determined.

On Tuesday, Berea City Councilman Tom Schultz revealed that discussions are still underway regarding a proposed dog park near Harrison Road and Harrison Court.Here are some quick facts about the project:

  • Schultz described the park as a three-phase project, which is said to feature a dog park, pavilion, playground, soccer field (or other multi-use field) and restrooms.
  • Residents near Harrison Road and Harrison Court have expressed opposition to the project.
  • The proposed building site is located at what is now a decommissioned sewer facility, next to the Berea Country Club.
  • The city has shared-use paths running along the property, stretching from Harrison Road to Short Line Pike. Berea City Administrator Randy Stone noted developing that property would be very difficult, since the soil beneath the decommissioned plant is strewn with sewer pipes and other infrastructure.
  • During a public hearing, one resident suggested the cost of such a facility would exceed $400,000. However, city officials say the actual cost has yet to be determined.
  • Neighborhood residents questioned the need for a dog park, stating people let their dogs run free along the shared use path. Some council members tout the park as a way to help remedy that problem.
  • To gain entry to the proposed dog park, pet owners would be required to provide proof that their animals’ vaccinations are current, and that the animals are spayed or neutered.
  • Residents questioned how the city would enforce those requirements since many pet owners don’t observe the leash law currently in effect. Councilman Billy Wooten responded: “If we can’t find an enforcement mechanism, we won’t build a park.”
  • Robert “P-Nut” Johnson, speaking on behalf of the Berea Country Club, said golf balls from the course’s 4th tee are often hit onto the property where the proposed dog park site would be located. Johnson suggested the city would have to erect a tall, long mesh fence to avoid the risk of having people or animals injured by stray golf balls.
  • Local residents expressed interest in purchasing the property to avoid having a dog park in their neighborhood.
  • Schultz stated a dog waste ordinance will be explored and drafted for council review.

 

Auditor: City Financial Review “As Good As It Gets”

finalgraphicThe City of Berea received a clean bill of financial health Tuesday evening during an audit report from the firm of Ray, Foley and Hensley. Auditor Heather Cochran revealed there were no instances of non-compliance found in the city’s practices, nor any deficiencies in the city’s internal controls. “That’s a clean opinion. It’s as good as it gets,” Cochran said. The report was adopted unanimously by the Berea City Council. Highlights of the written report include:

  1. Revenues Growing: In fiscal year 2017, total government revenues increased by over $1.1 million, with Occupational License Fees growing by $326,000 (5%), revenues from net profits fees increasing by $502,000 (33%), and restaurant tax proceeds growing by nearly $56,000 (5%). According to the financial report: “Job growth is not only growing in the industrial sector but also in our commercial sector.”
  2. Value of the City’s Total Assets Rose: The value of the City of Berea’s total assets increased to approximately $99 million, a $5.8 million increase over last year. A significant portion of that increase was due to investments in capital projects, such as the construction of the new city hall.
  3. Taking In More/Spending Less Than Planned: When comparing budget projections to actuals, the City of Berea took in $2.8 million more in revenue than anticipated in 2017. At the same time, the city spent less than budgeted by $6,024,035.
  4. Contingency Funds Growing: The City’s fund balance grew by $500,000 to reach approximately $12 million. Of the total fund balance, $2.7 million has been reserved for emergencies which will allow the city to operate in the event of an unforeseen crisis or economic downturn. Meanwhile, the Capital Sinking Fund reached approximately $2.2 million, some of which will be designated to buy equipment for the Berea Fire Department.
  5. Money Saved: The City ends the fiscal year with $5,524,368 in unbudgeted reserve funds.
  6. Debt Increased: The City’s long-term debt increased $4.1 million (14%) over the previous year, with a significant portion of that due to a $1.6 million increase in net pension liability. The city is due to retire a 2008 Park Bond debt in December. Meanwhile, the remaining debt on the Tolle Building (approximately $1 million) is being paid for by Tourism.

Notable Projects in 2017:

  • Completion of upgrade of solid waste handling system at BMU water plant for $228K;
  • Purchase of grapple truck for $136K for Public Works. Used for brush pick-up and other projects.
  • Purchase of two Ford trucks and accompanying snow plow equipment, for $112K.
  • Upgrade of city sewer line near Chestnut St. $50K.
  • 52% completion of new city hall/police/fire building by end of fiscal year (June 30).

New Art Accelerator Fellows Celebrated in Berea

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Stephanie Runyon of Wondrous Creations combines sculpture with functional ceramics.

 

 

The City of Berea recently celebrated the new class of emerging artisans at a reception in Old Town, Berea. The event took place Thursday at Gallery 123, where current Art Accelerator fellows and alumni welcomed visitors from the community.

 

Functioning as a type of business incubator for the arts, the Art Accelerator program provides fledgling artisans/entrepreneurs with studio, gallery and retail space, as well as training in business. With the tools they acquire in the Art Accelerator program, Berea artisans can then ply their talents to create viable local arts businesses.

With help from the program, ceramicist Stephanie Runyon launched her business, Wondrous Ceramics, after starting the program in August. Runyon specialized in sculpture while studying at Berea College, but she is now combining the creative elements of sculpture with functional ceramics. Along the way, Runyon said she is learning how to manage the business end of being a successful artist.

Having lived in Berea for 8 years, Runyon said she hopes to continue her work in Berea after she completes the Art Accelerator program. “I’m blessed to be here because I’ll know so many people once I’m done,” Runyon said.

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Printmaker Sara Gallimore suggests the Art Accelerator provides a safety net to allow emerging artisans to establish their businesses.

 

As a specialist in block printmaking, screen printing and digital illustration, Sara Gallimore said starting a business with the the Art Accelerator program provides a helpful safety net for new artist/entrepreneurs, including studio space. In addition to boosting her visibility as an artist, Gallimore said she hopes the program will help her expand into teaching printmaking workshops.

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Berea College grad Dwan Finney believes a fellowship in the Art Accelerator will help him expand his network and help him make his name as a painter.

 

Painter Dwan Finney, meanwhile, joined the Art Accelerator program last August. He believes that the opportunity to have studio space, combined with the chance to make connections, will boost his business. “It will help in making a name for myself and getting my name out there,” Finney said.

If past Art Accelerator graduates are any indication, emerging artisans will benefit from their experience in the program. Woodworker Tim Wade and broom artisan Justin Dean Burton are slated to complete the program at the end of October, yet they already established a gallery space for their business at the The Cabin on the Artisan Green.

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Woodworker Tim Wade is one example of the Art Accelerator fellow who has launched a new business in Old Town. He runs The Cabin with fellow soon-to-be alum Justin Dean Burton.

 

Additionally, the program has spurred the creation of another business in Old Town, Herb and Willow, located on North Broadway Street. In all, 14 artisans have completed the Art Accelerator program so far.

George Oberst Remembered as Artist, Renaissance Man, Public Servant

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.