City and state leaders met at Berea City Hall Friday to receive $94,999 in grant funds from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) Department of Rural and Municipal Aid.
In making the presentation, Department of Rural and Municipal Aid Commissioner Gray Tomblyn II said public safety was one of the primary considerations for selecting the Berea projects. “Governor Bevin has approved discretionary funding for three projects for $94,999, including guardrail work for South Dogwood Drive, North Dogwood Drive, and Ellipse Street,” Tomblyn said. “All three of these affect public safety.”
Tomblyn added the discretionary funds from the Governor’s office come at an especially crucial time when road funds are scarce. “We know there are infrastructure needs across the Commonwealth, and that’s why it’s so important that we maximize the funds that we do have. At the end of the day, these are your tax dollars coming back to you,” Tomblyn said.
KYTC will reimburse the city for construction, which will include .0931 miles of guardrail on South Dogwood Drive, 0.586 miles of guardrail on North Dogwood Drive, and for Ellipse Street, the construction of a turn lane measuring 0.138 miles.
City officials on hand to receive the news included Mayor Bruce Fraley, Berea City Council members Jerry Little, Ronnie Terrill, Jim Davis and John Payne, as well as City Administrator David Gregory, and GIS Director Tom Moreland. State leaders present included Senator Jared Carpenter and Representative Deanna Frazier.
Mayor Fraley noted the additional funding was a welcome surprise, since Berea has never received this kind of discretionary funding beyond its regular allocation. This year Berea received $250,000 in road aid funds, though the allocation to cities is shrinking every year.
“We always want to look at projects that deal with public safety first,” Fraley said. “These two guardrail projects are in desperate need to be done. The third project on Ellipse Street will also enhance public safety, allowing us to be able to run a sidewalk through that area [On Ellipse] without cutting out the hill that’s there. It’s going to be a big enhancement to public safety.” Fraley expressed thanks to Governor Bevin, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Greg Thomas, Commissioner Tomblyn, as well as lawmakers Frazier and Carpenter.
When it was announced the grant was for $94,999, Senator Jared Carpenter drew a laugh from the small gathering when he pulled out a dollar bill and announced it was to round up the grant amount. After the meeting, Carpenter said landing the funding is important to help keep local motorists and pedestrians safe.
“Anytime we can get money that will improve our community, that’s what we’re working for,” Carpenter said. “Deanna [Frazier] and I have the opportunity to work with the governor to help the mayor do projects like this, and that’s just a big part of what we want to do – bring our tax dollars to help our communities. Anytime we can do something for safety, that’s our number one priority,” Carpenter said.
Representative Frazier agreed, noting it’s an example of the positive results that can occur when the various levels of government work together. “It’s a wonderful surprise, and it’s good to be part of a team, whether it’s at the city, county or state level, it’s just good to be able to bring good news back to the community,” Frazier said. “Safety is so important, and it’s a wonderful windfall when things like this happen.”
Fraley added one of the most important lessons from Friday’s announcement is that the city must stay engaged with state government to ensure Berea takes advantage of additional funding opportunities. Fraley was attending a meeting of the Kentucky League of Cities in Covington when the opportunity fell into place.
“The City of Berea had never received an additional funding grant like this in the past, and it’s probably because we didn’t know about it,” Fraley said. “We have to make sure we’re always establishing relationships and that we’re present and visible in Frankfort and Kentucky League of Cities and Blue Grass Area Development District events because many times, when you attend these events, you find out about opportunities like this and you can apply. So, I think it’s important that we participate.”