The Berea City Council awarded over $15,000 in grants Tuesday evening during a special called meeting.
Berea Kids Eat received $2,000, Berea Mural Project received $941.13 for materials for benches, Room in the Inn was granted $1,800, while Boone Gap Outfitters received $775 to produce signage for local outdoor trails and attractions.
Additional recipients included Berea Home Village, a program that assists senior citizens to remain in their homes, Bereans United for Utility and Rent Relief (BUURR), an organization that provides emergency payments for families in need, and Berea Makerspace, a new local entity that provides resources for entrepreneurs. At a previous meeting, the council approved an application for TLC Animal Refuge for $5,000, noting the organization is working to reduce the stray cat population in Berea through spaying and neutering.
Harvesting Hope, a program sponsored by Sustainable Berea that trains women recovering from substance abuse, was removed from consideration by the council because Sustainable Berea received a grant from the Berea Tourism Commission. Audit and Finance Committee Chair Steve Caudill pointed out the committee established a rule that no organization could receive funding from both tourism and the city’s general fund. Caudill said he applauds Harvesting Hope’s work, but the city is obliged to follow its own rules until the process can be changed. “This process is not perfect,” Caudill said. “I think we can make some changes for the future that allows distinct programs to be funded.”
At some points there was disagreement about program funding. Jerry Little, for example, announced he could not support any grant awards. “After the tax increase last week, I feel we should not be giving out grants,” Little said.
Councilman Jim Davis, meanwhile, introduced a motion that would have denied a $4,000 funding request for Berea Kids Eat, asserting the program already receives federal funding and significant support from Berea College. Ronnie Terrill, Jerry Little, David Rowlette and Jim Davis voted in favor of the motion. Voting against was John Payne, Emily LaDouceur, Steve Caudill, and Cora Jane Wilson. Mayor Bruce Fraley cast the tie-breaking vote to defeat the motion.
Ultimately the council settled on a compromise suggested by Cora Jane Wilson, in which Berea Kids Eat received a grant for $2,000.
When the meeting was adjourned, several grantees expressed disappointment that they were not allowed to address the council, especially those whose grant applications were not fully funded. At the last meeting however, council members stated applicants would not be called upon to address the council unless council members had specific questions about the programs in question.