By Andy McDonald
For The Citizen
The City of Berea will be co-hosting a job fair at the Acton Folk Center Thursday in an effort to help local employers to entice new workers. The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and will feature music at least one food truck for fair goers.
At Tuesday’s meeting of the Berea City Council, City Administrator Rose Beverly praised the efforts of Director of Business and Tourism Development Donna Angel and her department in staging the event.
“Donna and her staff have worked really hard to put a neat event together,” Beverly said. “They are trying to make an effort to help these businesses that are looking for staff, so I commend her and her team for doing that.”
Angel said at least two local manufacturers will be represented at Thursday’s job fair, in addition to national retailers like T-Mobile, which is opening a location in Berea. Angel stated employers are stepping up their efforts to attract workers, including higher wages and offering more benefits and signing incentives. T-Mobile, for example, is now offering benefits to part-time employees, while other employers are offering tuition reimbursement programs.
This year, Angel said local companies are especially eager to offer opportunities to high school age employees, many of whom are expected to attend the fair from schools in Madison and surrounding counties.
The event is being hosted in cooperation with the Kentucky Career Center and the American Job Center.
Prior to Tuesday’s business session, the council had a work session concerning the status of the potential annexation of industrial property in to city limits. The property is located at 1628 Menelaus Road.
Codes and Planning Department Director Amanda Haney explained that that there is a 1.27-acre section of an 87-acre industrial site that sits just outside of Berea city limits.
The property is owned by the Berea Industrial Development Authority. While most of the 87 -acre plot is within city limits and zoned industrial, approximately 7 tracts are currently zoned agricultural or single family residential. Officials said once the city completes the annexation process, the next step will be to rezone all of the property industrial to be consistent with the city’s Comprehensive Plan Future Land Use Map. The first reading of the ordinance was heard without objection. The second and final reading will take place on December 7.
Additionally, the council heard the first reading of a zone change ordinance for 136 and 164 Neely Street from R-1 residential to MP-3 mobile home park and manufactured home park. The reading comes in the wake of a council move to reverse a decision by the Berea Planning and Zoning Commission denying the application.
Jerry Little noted the council’s decision really wasn’t a reversal of a long-standing city policy, in which the Neely Street property had already been operating since the 1970s as a mobile home park before it was annexed into the city.
“I think some of the people in the community think we overrode Planning and Zoning. That is not correct. These two lots that we’re approving have been a trailer park for 50 years. The zone should have been changed when the Comprehensive Plan was done,” Little said. The ordinance will come up again for a final vote on December 7.
RITI presents plan
Representatives from Room In the Inn made a presentation to the council, noting they are currently staging a fund-raising drive to continue operations. Jeannie Hogg said the organization would need approximately $45,000 to serve their clients for the coming year.
The cost of providing a room for a homeless person on a temporary basis is approximately $38 per night. The organization provided lodging for 140 homeless people last year.
“I would really encourage everyone to take part in their Home for the Holidays giving opportunity,” said Steve Caudill, speaking of RITI’s current campaign. “To think that for $35, someone can have a warm room and not sleep in the frigid cold in Berea his really nominal compared to the impact it may have on them.
“Homelessness is overwhelming when you start trying to think about how to fix it. But the way that we don’t fix it is by doing nothing.”