The impact of Monday’s ice storm could have been worse had it not been for the efforts of city staff as well as past investments in infrastructure, according to Berea city officials.
During Tuesday’s meeting of the Berea City Council, officials noted that late Monday, between 1,500 and 1,600 residents were without power in the city, but that a majority had their electricity restored in about two hours. As of Tuesday night, only 12 homes at the end of Scaffold Cane Road were without power. That quick recovery was due to staff work and preparation, said officials.
“I’ve got to brag. All of our departments have done well during this emergency declaration of this ice event, but our utilities have done a lot,” said City Administrator David Gregory, praising Berea Municipal Utilities linemen who worked around the clock to get residents back online. “They work really hard and I want to publicly praise them for their work,” he said.
Berea Municipal Utilities Manager Kevin Howard said he was proud of his crews, but also proud of the rest of the city departments that pitched in.
“A big hats off to police, fire and public works,” Howard said. “Another thing that aided our power restoration efforts is we were able to get around on city streets.” Staffers from the Berea Parks and Recreation Department were also praised, having helped clear snow during the worst of the crisis.
Howard and Gregory also noted that some foresight on the part of the council may have made the impact of the ice storm less severe than it might have been. That’s because since the 2009 ice storm, the city has invested in tree trimming that reduces the number of falling limbs that can take power lines down. Additionally, Howard noted that a number of infrastructure improvements made on the city’s electric system since 2014 significantly reduced the number of power outages in Monday’s ice storm.
Berea Mayor Bruce Fraley praised the work of all city departments during the crisis, though he expressed particular appreciation for the employees who remained on the job at all hours during the worst of the storm.
“I’m very proud of the work that they [Berea Municipal Utilities] did. I’m very proud of the work that Public Works did. There’s nothing I can say that would adequately express the thanks that we all owe those people for doing their job and doing it so well, getting power on, and keeping it on, and keeping the streets cleared,” Fraley said. “And our first responders, police and fire, they’re up for any emergency. It doesn’t matter what the emergency is, they’re going to be there.
“And I think we should all be very, very proud of this total team effort,” Fraley said.
• In other action, the Berea City Council heard the first reading of a communications ordinance that would allow the city to open its market up to more cable and internet providers, potentially giving Berea customers more choice when it comes to cable and internet services.
At one point, Berea City Councilmember Teresa Scenters questioned whether the new ordinance would mean that underserved areas of the city would get service. In a January meeting, the city’s franchise contract consultant, attorney Linda Ain, said allowing for more competition in a city can mean that cable companies will compete with one another to reach underserved areas, thus expanding the service coverage in a city. Ain noted that kind of competition has benefited cable and internet consumers in Nicholasville, Lexington, Richmond and Versailles.
• Meanwhile, Councilmember Jim Davis again expressed hope that the city would craft a pole service agreement that would ensure that utility companies won’t leave poles in an unsightly condition, which Davis said is a blight on the city landscape. Officials said those details will be addressed in the pole service agreement.
• The second reading of the communication ordinance will take place on March 2.
In other news, the Berea City Council adopted a resolution to accept a bid from Parsons Construction Services of Greensburg, Kentucky, for approximately $101,550 for mountain bike design and construction on J.C. Chambers Road. Phase one will include four trails, a pump (practice) track, a trail head with 15 parking spots, a 35-foot bridge crossing, and asphalting each corner berm and staging area. Gregory noted he checked whether some of the construction could be done by city staffers to save money, but that having Parson’s do it is more efficient. The bid was accepted unanimously by the council.
• Also adopted Tuesday was the second reading of an ordinance to declare city vehicles as surplus property and make them available for an online auction. The seven vehicles can be reviewed on page A11 and also at govdeals.com, and will be available for inspection in person at a future date to be announced.
Next meeting of city council is scheduled for March 2.