Berea: Owsley Fork Dam expansion best option for maintaining water quality

Owsley Fork Reservoir June 2018The City of Berea enjoys what is arguably some of the cleanest and best tasting water in central Kentucky, and if a plan to raise the Owsley Fork Dam by six feet is approved by federal authorities, that high level of water quality should continue for at least another 50 years.

“Our water is some of the cleanest, most aesthetically pleasing, safe water to drink. I would put our water up against any water,” said Berea Utilities Director Ed Fortner.

Fortner recently reported the city is waiting on approval from the Army Corps of Engineers for the design of the dam raising project. One significant difference between Berea’s plan and others typically approved by federal authorities is that the Owsley Fork plan will add water storage capacity, not merely repair or refurbish and existing facility. Fortner said Berea had some work to do in convincing federal officials that raising the dam was a viable option. “We were persistent and we won the day on this project,” Fortner said. “That was a big win for us in Berea.”

As part of the application process, the city had to submit alternative plans for securing more water, though at $12 million, raising the dam was the most cost-effective plan. Other options included building a pipeline to the Kentucky River, buying water from the City of Richmond, and an option called indirect potable use – that of disinfecting and reusing reclaimed wastewater.

Building a pipeline to the Kentucky River is more expensive than the concept Berea is suggesting, running at least $14 million. In the meantime, the City of Richmond has made it clear that as a growing community, it does not have water to sell. That left another option: recycling waste water, which, while it is used around the country, is simply not yet viable in Kentucky because it is not adequately regulated. “Not here, not right now,” Fortner said of the option to use recycled water. “It won’t be considered here anytime soon, though I consider that unfortunate.”

Why unfortunate? Because Fortner says having the option to use recycled and disinfected water could help the city get through difficult times such as droughts. At most, recycled water would be used 30 days out of a given year, supplementing the existing water supply. “It’s a good option because you can call on it when you need it,” Fortner said. “Even if we do the dam project, we should also explore the long-term viability of that option for the future.”

One big obstacle in Kentucky is the perception that recycled water is polluted or dirty water. In fact, Fortner said once recycled water is put through a rigorous disinfecting process, it actually has less impurities than raw water drawn from the reservoir. “That water, believe it or not, is superior to the water that naturally exists in our lakes,” Fortner said.

The way the process works is that waste water is run through the city’s state-of-the-art oxidation waste water treatment facility. The water is aerated, causing the biological degradation wastes and impurities. The solids are filtered out, and the clarified water is ultimately disinfected with ultraviolet rays. At that point, the water is technically more pure than raw water in the reservoir. The clarified water is then channeled into the reservoir to mix with raw, untreated water in the lake. Then, when raw water is pumped out of the reservoir into the city’s water treatment plant, and the recycled water goes through the purification process all over again. Currently that filtered effluent is simply directed into Silver Creek.

Because the community is growing, and because several other communities around the country already employ technologies to reuse wastewater and convert it to clean, potable water, Fortner said somewhere down the line, the city should explore water recycling as an option to augment its water supply. “Water is a finite resource, and this really is where the future of water treatment is going,” Fortner said.

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Mayor Connelly: Memorial Day recalls nation’s common heritage, sacrifices for freedom

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Sunday’s Memorial Day observance included a 21-gun salute in remembrance of the nation’s fallen servicemen. File photo.

The memories of the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country were honored Sunday in a Memorial Day observance hosted by Cleveland Frost American Legion Post 50. The ceremony took place at Berea Cemetery.

Post 50 Commander Jake Johnson opened the program, followed by a benediction from Dan Moore. The Madison Southern High School Junior ROTC presented the colors, followed by remarks by Berea Mayor Steve Connelly.

Calling for national unity in honor and remembrance of the nation’s fallen heroes, Connelly recalled America’s common heritage:

“We gather today to honor the Americans who gave their lives so that we might live in FREEDOM. All across our country, Americans bow their heads in thanks to our fallen heroes. With flags at half-mast, with flowers placed on graves, with colorful parades, with quiet prayers, we take this time to remember their sacrifices and renew our commitment to their ideals.

In this quiet cemetery, the rows of headstones give silent testimony to their stories of sacrifice and service that make up our nation’s history. They mark the final resting place of a spirit that has guided our country for more than 200 years, and illustrates a shared devotion to defend our nation, protect our freedom, and keep America strong and proud.

We know that our country is strong and great today, in part, because of them. We know that to honor their extraordinary sacrifice, we must all resolve to keep the United States the world’s leading force for peace and security, for prosperity and freedom. And we know now, more than ever, that this burden of service weighs most heavily on our men and women in uniform and their families.

On this Memorial Day, let us draw inspiration from the spirit that surrounds us here to provide the support that our military and their families need and deserve. And let us remember as we look out over these markers that the origin of Memorial Day, this practice of honoring America’s fallen heroes, began near the end of the Civil War, the deadliest and most divisive conflict that our nation has ever known. Thinking about that deep and bloody national division should help us to remember what JOINS US TOGETHER as Americans:

We are all descendants of a common creed — one nation, under God. We are all partners with a common purpose: to keep our nation free and strong; a force for peace and progress; a place where people who work hard and take responsibility have the chance to make the most of their own lives, build strong families, and live out their dreams in dignity and peace. With these goals continually in mind, and as we seek to uphold our obligations as One America, may God bless our departed heroes and the country for which they made the ultimate sacrifice to serve. And may God bless you all.”

Mayor Connelly and Madison County Sherriff Mike Coyle laid a wreath at the foot of the flagpole to honor all veterans, and a recording of the West Point Glee Club singing “Mansions of the Lord” was played. The ceremony concluded with a 21-gun salute from the Madison County Veterans Association Honor Guard and a performance of “Taps.”

Berea police learn strategies for helping autistic citizens

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After a recent Police Autism Community Training (PACT) session, instructors Kirsten Railey (far left) and Abbey Love (far right) visited with Berea Police Department Chief David Gregory and Nick Carpenter, a local advocate for those living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Officers received training on how to help and communicate with individuals afflicted with ASD.

 

It’s a situation that could have gone tragically wrong. A man dressed in army fatigues was running through a city park, carrying what looked like a gun. Police were called to the scene by concerned citizens.

As is often the case, police officers had to quickly assess whether the subject was a threat to himself or others. Luckily, the man’s mother was present. Her son was not a threat, she explained to officers, nor was he mentally ill, under the influence of intoxicants, or even carrying a real gun. Her son suffered from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and what seemed like odd behavior to others was merely an expression of his neurological condition. Those with ASD often fixate on a special interest, and in that particular case, the man in the park had always been fascinated by the military, compelling him to dress in camouflage and embark on imaginary army “missions.” His “gun” was actually a toy covered with duct tape.

Officers from the Berea Police Department were told of that scenario last Tuesday when they received Police Autism Community Training (PACT), an instructional program sponsored by the Kentucky Autism Training Center. Offered to law enforcement and other agencies around the Bluegrass, the program gives participants tools and strategies for identifying and interacting with people dealing with ASD.

Those with ASD are often misunderstood because their condition can hinder their ability to communicate or interact socially, facilitators said. As a result, when they are encountered by a police officer, they can demonstrate behaviors that, unless recognized as symptoms of ASD, can appear belligerent, aggressive, or even threatening. People with ASD can have difficulty following instructions or commands, and behaviors like repeating back questions, lack of eye contact, odd or repetitive movements, over-sensitivity to touch, or tantrums can seem like aggression until an officer understands those behaviors within the context of autism, said Berea Police Department Chief David Gregory.

“Police are trained to respond to a crisis situation with certain procedures every day, but sometimes those procedures may not always be the best way to interact with individuals with autism,” Gregory said. “Because we are usually the first to respond to an emergency, it is critical that we have a working knowledge of autism, and the wide variety of behaviors individuals with autism can exhibit in emergency situations.”

At last Tuesday’s session, officers told facilitators of their experiences encountering autistic individuals in Berea, at which point facilitators offered various techniques for communicating with autistic citizens. For example, lights, sirens, or rapid questioning can confuse or agitate an autistic individual. As such, police learned specific strategies for those situations, including talking to an ASD sufferer about their special interest to both calm them and establish a line of communication.

In recent years, a lack of understanding between police officers and persons with ASD has led to tragic consequences, as some ASD sufferers were severely injured by police, or worse, because officers mistook ASD behaviors, such as an inability to follow instructions under stress, as threatening behavior.

Chief Gregory said situations like that may be avoided in Berea if police officers are equipped with a better understanding of individuals with ASD. “The training (PACT) we received is important for our police officers to develop a culture of self-awareness and de-escalate a situation and promote public trust within our community,” Gregory said.

Learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder, including various services available at www.asbg.org, autismsafety.org, and nationalautism.org.

City of Berea Honors 911 Dispatchers

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The City of Berea joined other local governments in honoring 911 dispatchers when Mayor Steve Connelly proclaimed April 8-14 National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. Accepting the honor on behalf of Madison County E911 telecommunicators was shift supervisor Jodi Webb.  The proclamation stated the following:

Whereas emergencies can occur at anytime that require police, fire or emergency medical services, and

Whereas when an emergency occurs the prompt response of police officers, firefighters and paramedics is critical in the protection of life and preservation of property, and

Whereas the safety of our police officers and firefighters is dependent upon the quality and accuracy of information obtained from citizens who telephone the Madison County 911 center, and

Whereas Public Safety Telecommunicators are the first and most critical contact our citizens have with emergency services, and

Whereas Public Safety Telecommunicators are the single vital link for our police officers and firefighters by monitoring their activities by radio, providing them with information and insuring their safety, and

Whereas Public Safety Telecommunicators of the Madison County 911 Center have contributed substantially to the apprehension of criminals, suppression of fires and treatment of patients, and

Whereas each dispatcher has exhibited compassion, understanding and professionalism during the performance of their job in the past year;

Therefore Be It Resolved that I, Steven Connelly, Mayor of the City of Berea, declare the week of April 8 through 14, 2018 to be National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week in the City of Berea, in honor of the men and women whose diligence and professionalism keep our city and citizens safe.

 

Mayor Connelly Proclaims April 3 National Service Recognition Day

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On Tuesday night, Berea Mayor Steve Connelly signed a proclamation designating April 3, 2018 as National Service Recognition Day, acknowledging the valuable contributions of volunteers and professionals who uplift our communities through their service. The proclamation read as follows:

WHEREAS, service to others is a hallmark of the American character, and central to how we meet our challenges; and

WHEREAS, the United States and the state of Kentucky is increasingly turning to national service and volunteerism as a cost-effective strategy to meet their needs; and

WHEREAS, AmeriCorps and Senior Corps participants address the most pressing challenges facing our communities, from educating students for the jobs of the 21st century, to fighting the opioid epidemic, to responding to natural disasters, to supporting veterans and military families; and

WHEREAS, national service expands economic opportunity by creating more sustainable, resilient communities and providing education, career skills, and leadership abilities for those who serve; and across the country, bolstering the civic, neighborhood, and faith-based organizations that are so vital to our economic and social well-being; and

WHEREAS, national service participants increase the impact of the organizations they serve, both through their direct service and by managing millions of additional volunteers; and

WHEREAS, national service represents a unique public-private partnership that invests in community solutions and leverages non-federal resources to strengthen community impact and increase the return on taxpayer dollars; and

WHEREAS, national service participants demonstrate commitment, dedication, and patriotism by making an intensive commitment to service, a commitment that remains with them in their future endeavors; and

WHEREAS, the Corporation for National and Community Service shares a priority with local leaders nationwide to engage citizens, improve lives, and strengthen communities; and is joining with the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, Cities of Service, and local leaders across the country for National Service Recognition Day on April 3, 2018.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that I, Steven Connelly do hereby proclaim April 3, 2018 as National Service Recognition Day, and I encourage residents to recognize the positive impact of national service in our community, to thank those who serve, and to find ways to give back to their communities.

Denise Hagan Rubin sworn in for Berea Planning Commission

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In appointing Denise Hagan Rubin to the Berea Planning Commission, Berea Mayor Steve Connelly invoked the memory of the late Mayor Clint Hensley (pictured in the background), who advocated a policy of planned development.

 

Denise Hagan Rubin was sworn in for duty as a new member of the Berea Planning Commission Tuesday night. On Monday, the Berea City Council voted 7-1 to appoint Hagan Rubin to the commission during a special called council meeting. In placing Hagan Rubin’s name into nomination, Berea Mayor Steve Connelly recalled the words of the city’s second mayor, Clint Hensley, who advocated a policy of planned development to ensure the city pursues a high quality of employers as well as stable, long-term economic growth. Said Mayor Connelly:

“Berea has had a planning commission since 1959 and, for decades, has followed a “planned development” approach to growth even in recruiting manufacturing companies As Mayor Hensley recalled about the process of recruiting Parker Seal, Dresser, Gibson, Goodyear, Keller, and Suburban Homes/Hyster, planning was important:

‘We’ve had to be real strict…We’ve got to know they’re not fly-by-nighters. They’ve got to be financially sound….above all, they’ve got to be nonpolluters…we turned down a leather-tanning outfit, and I know where it is, and they’d like to get rid of it. We turned down a fertilizer manufacturing company, and they’d like to get rid of it. We turned down a yarn manufacturing and dying plant, and they’d like to get rid of it. There’s a lot of things that doesn’t meet the eye of the public that we’ve said “No” to, because we don’t want that kind of industry in our community.’

Planned growth for years has led to smart choices and has been a successful strategy for Berea, attracting quality manufacturing plants in successive waves over the years that have yielded a number of manufacturing jobs that exceed Richmond’s. We have also witnessed a steady expansion of general business since I-75 opened at Berea in 1966.

This record of growth over the decades demonstrates that planned growth has not been antibusiness. Those who promote that fiction tend either to ignore the data, deny the impact of national economic trends that dominate our local economy, or use that rhetoric to justify a personal resentment.

Over the years, our planning commission has played an important role in implementing this strategy. Therefore, to support and perpetuate Berea’s continued use of planned growth procedures in regulating our changing local economy for the best interest of all of our citizens, it is my pleasure to nominate Denise Hagan to the Berea Planning Commission.

She is a former member of council and currently serves on the Board of Adjustments. She resides in Berea and has been a member of the Vineyard Homeowners Association for several years. She cares about Berea and will work hard to interpret and enforce our land use regulations fairly and dispassionately.”

City aiming for July 4th opening of new splash pad at Berea City Pool

Splash Pad SketchIf everything goes the right way, the Berea City Pool will open a new splash pad for small children this 4th of July. City of Berea staffers have been tackling a number of details to bring the project to fruition, including the rather delicate task of replacing of the pool’s aging filtration tanks.  Assuming the weather finally begins cooperating, officials say there’s still a chance the splash pad could be ready for the summer holiday. The new facility will replace the toddler pool.