Author: cityofbereaky

Berea hires new city administrator

In a 7-1 vote, the Berea City Council voted to hire a city administrator candidate to replace David Gregory, whose two-year tenure as Berea’s chief operating officer ends Saturday upon his retirement.

In Tuesday’s special called meeting, the council voted to hire Rose Beverly, who most recently has served as city administrator in Aitkin, Minnesota. The hiring is contingent upon the Beverly and the administration reaching a final agreement on the terms of her contract. The lone dissenting vote came from Berea City Councilman Jerry Little, who, while wishing Beverly well and vowing to work with her, said he had reservations about giving the job to someone he doesn’t know well.

Eleven candidates participated in the entire hiring process, with five ultimately being interviewed in person, according to Human Resources Director Jennifer Renfroe. Berea Mayor Bruce Fraley stated that time and again, Beverly impressed interviewers.

“Rose was consistently the top-rated candidate in both panel interviews. Her experience as a current city administrator was very important in the evaluation process and we expect her to hit the ground running,” Fraley said. “Anytime we have a new city administrator, it is a significant moment for our city. As the new chief operating officer, she brings a wealth of experience to the job.”

Beverly’s tenure as city administrator at Aitkin, Minnesota, a city approximately two hours north of Minneapolis, has run a little over a year, according to media reports. Prior to that, she served as the clinical manager/medical staff coordinator of Lost Rivers Medical Center in Arco, Idaho, where she worked for five years, according to media accounts.

In related news, Berea Fire Department Chief Shawn Sandlin has been tapped to serve as the interim city administrator until the new city administrator can take over. That measure was approved in an 8-0 vote.

Progress on the Chestnut Street Pavilion

There were more signs of progress for the Chestnut Street Pavilion Monday morning as crews were working toward meeting their summer completion goal.

The cupola for the pavilion was readied for installation, and crews were out pouring cement for the facility, which is projected for an August completion. An usually wet July has delayed construction somewhat, along with some pandemic-related delays in getting supplies.

The pavilion will be the home of the Berea Farmer’s Market, but it is also expected to be available to the public as a performance space, a venue for classes or seminars, and as a space that can be rented by the public for events like family reunions.

Much of the funding for the Chestnut Street Pavilion is coming from the Berea Tourism and Convention Commission, which has budgeted $250,000 for the completion of the facility. The money for the public facility is coming from the restaurant tax. City officials have previously speculated the $565,000 pavilion will be completed under budget.

The effort to build the pavilion on Chestnut Street, next to the former Mitchell Tolle building, began when the city rallied support from local citizens and interest groups, thereafter winning a $250,000 grant from the Kentucky Governor’s Office of Agriculture Policy and an additional $100,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development division.

The cupola for the Chestnut Street Pavilion awaited installation Monday morning.

Mayor Bruce Fraley, who spearheaded the effort to lobby county and state officials on behalf of the city, said the Chestnut Street Pavilion may well spur economic revitalization of Berea’s commercial district on Mt. Vernon Road, and it may serve as a gateway that will lead to the revitalization of Chestnut Street and Old Town as well. Both of districts are already seeing an upturn of new businesses moving in.

The Chestnut Street Pavilion is just the latest endeavor by the Berea Tourism Commission to put restaurant taxes to use to build attractions that can serve local residents and draw prospective tourists. The commission is also funding the mountain bike/running trail project on J.C. Chambers Lane as well as the city’s network of shared use paths and trails.

In the meantime, the tourism commission has also approved funding for improvement of the Tolle building for city and public use.

Berea Craft Festival sees surge in attendance

By all accounts, last week’s Berea Craft Festival was a success. Now organizers are hoping to replicate those results at future festivals.

Consulting agent for the festival, Melissa Gross, reviewed the preliminary numbers at Wednesday’s Berea Tourism Commission meeting, noting the festival took in a record number of gate receipts since the event was taken over by the City of Berea in 2014.

“We’ve broken some records since the city and tourism have been involved in this,” Gross said, noting that Friday’s attendance, which was estimated at 2,900 visitors, was most certainly a record breaker, with Saturday following close behind despite the threat of rain.  Overall, the three-day event drew an estimated 8,000 visitors to Berea, according to Tourism Operations Manager Nancy Conley.

Gate revenue was about $4,500 above the highest amount collected since the fair began keeping such records seven years ago, and Gross noted that some 87 artisans showed at the event, but the striking difference was the amount of new artists who were on hand for the weekend.

“We had 26 new artists, and that’s wonderful to have because you always want a combination of ones that people come to see every year, and you want to see those new ones, too,” said Gross.

Perhaps most importantly, there seemed to be a surge in purchases this year, as if visitors were making up for 2020, when the last Berea Craft Festival was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Artists were very happy. People weren’t just coming, they were leaving with bags in their hands, and that’s what artists want,” Gross said, adding that some vendors were even running out of product to sell. “Inventory was getting low, and that is a great problem to have.” Gross also reported receiving very positive comments on the event’s food vendors, who also made a tidy profit during the three-day event.

Additionally, Nancy Conley praised local businesses for their role in helping make the event a success. “We just want to send out a big thank you to all of the gas stations, restaurants, hotels, air bnbs, all of our local shop owners and crafts people, and all businesses in Berea, whether directly tourism related or not. You all did an excellent job accommodating our visitors that came to Berea for the craft festival,” Conley said.  “We’ve had tremendous amounts of emails, phone calls and notes telling us how much fun they [visitors] had in Berea.”

Tourism Commission Chair Patrick Huston added that the Boone Tavern Inn saw a significant surge in business over the weekend, with the Tavern’s rooms being booked up in advance and a booming business at the restaurant.

 At the conclusion of Gross’s report, Tourism Commissioner Charles Arnold asked her what she can predict for future Berea Craft Festivals based on what occurred last weekend. After saying she would take a three-week break before starting preparations for the 2022 festival, Gross said this year’s festival seemed a harbinger of good things.

“I think this was a really strong sign that it will be well-attended in the future,” Gross said, though she noted some speculated attendance was very high because people were excited to get out and travel again.   

Gross praised the efforts of Berea Business Development and Tourism Director Donna Angel, Conley, and tourism’s media consultant, Right Place Media, for promoting the festival. Sara Stillwell, who is the newly hired media manager at Berea Tourism, was also praised for her contributions in spreading the news about the festival on social media.

City applying for Scaffold Cane path funding

Completing the Scaffold Cane shared use path was identified as one of the Berea City Council’s goals earlier this year, and by a unanimous vote last week, the council voted to seek funding for that project for a second time.   

On Tuesday, the council approved a measure authorizing Berea Mayor Bruce Fraley to apply for funding from the Kentucky Department of Local Government.

The $850,000 project runs down the west side of Scaffold Cane Road from Main Street to Logston Lane, and would include a bridge over Brushy Fork Creek.  The shared use path will also link up with the Boone Trace Trail at Brushy Fork.

City Administrator David Gregory has noted the project is important for the safety of local pedestrians and college students who walk on Scaffold Cane. “There are a lot of people who live on Elm Street who walk up that hill,” Gregory told council members earlier this year.

At last week’s meeting, Fraley told council members that representatives from the Blue Grass Area Development District feel positive about Berea’s chances for getting funding for the project this time around. Most of the shared use path has already been designed, but securing construction funding is the next major step.