By Ronica Shannon
Senior News Writer
BEREA—The majority of those who attended Tuesday’s Berea City Council meeting wore blue shirts reading “Another Kentuckian For Fairness.”
Tuesday marked a grassroots effort that spanned from one side of the state to the other. Residents in Bowling Green also addressed their local governing body showing support for local anti-discrimination fairness laws.
Judith Faulkner, a Bereans for Fairness representative, spoke first to the council about how the issue of protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people is becoming more accepted in other areas around the state.
“By the end of November, five additional cities launched their own grassroots movement,” she said. “Morehead, Shelbyville, Bowling Green, Danville and Elizabethtown all have been inspired by your positive perception of fairness.”
Faulkner said that approximately 83 percent of Kentuckians, no matter their political party affiliation, were in support of fairness and agree that “Everyone should be afforded the opportunity to earn a living, put a roof over their head without fear of being turned away because of who they are,” she said.
Kent Gilbert, pastor of Union Church in Berea, said he wanted to clarify a few misconceptions about what often is called the “Fairness Ordinance.”
“It’s not just a small group,” he said. “It affects all of us. Oftentimes, people forget that laws affecting minorities often protect the majority as well. Each city’s fairness ordinance is slightly different. We just wanted to say ‘Thank you’ to the city council to continue the good work and demonstrate that interest has only grown. We feel like the momentum is moving toward fairness and we hope to find a way to make it fit right in Berea. We also want to let them know that we have not forgotten that there is this opportunity.”
There now are three vacancies on Berea’s Human Rights Commission.
“I’m still considering who to appoint,” said Berea Mayor Steven Connelly. “I’m required to request nominations from the (human rights) commission and the (city) council and that’s ongoing. We have one appointment that will expire in December, we have one who has been elected to the city council and will be ineligible (to be on the human rights commission) and we have one who had to resign with a year left because of time constraints.”
Berea’s Human Rights Commission is a past the organization stage, and now is moving on to documenting cases of reported discrimination and other data, Connelly said.
“One question that was raised repeatedly during the (public) hearings was ‘Why do we need an extension to the existing laws?’ The commission is studying that and they want to come back, and based on that data, give us a snapshot and an opinion.”
In other business:
• The council agreed to install three-way stops at the following intersections: Oakwood/Manious/Delaney streets; Oakwood /Highland streets; and Haiti/E. Haiti Road.
• Approval was given to several changes to the project located on Shortline Pike in east Berea. These change orders include: labor to relocate a 14-inch water line for Berea Municipal Utilities and a 6-inch water line for the Southern Madison Utilities; material for the relocation of a 14-inch water line and a 6-inch water line; and undercut excavating.
The total change order is going to cost an extra $50,822, bringing to total project cost to $179,223. Most of the project costs are covered by bond funding, according to council member Virgil Burnside, who is chair of the city’s Audit and Finance Committee.
• Approximately 18 acres of land needed to continue the expansion of the Berea Bypass will be annexed into city limits pending a second reading and approval of an ordinance. “The (State Highway) Cabinet has constructed the portion of the bypass from Interstate 75 to US 25, and plans to complete the construction of the Bypass from US 25 to KY 21,” the ordinance states. However, state funding for the remainder of the project has yet to be released.
Property owned by Farristown Baptist Church, Berea Industrial Development Authority, Mina Mason Heirs, Edna and Howard White, Farristown Baptist Church Cemetery and Ned and Edna White also was annexed into city limits.
• First reading of an ordinance to change the zoning classification of property owned by the Federation of Appalachian House Enterprises (FAHE) at 103 Lewis Street was heard at Tuesday’s meeting. If approved, the ordinance will change the zoning from Industrial to Major Business.
• The council accepted two new streets into the city’s street maintenance plan: 1,579 feet of Commerce Drive, adding $315,800 in assets to the city and 760 feet of Brady Lane, adding $190,000 in assets to the city.
• Berea City Hall will be closed Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday.
• Newly elected council members will be sworn into office at the council’s Dec. 18 meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the Berea Police and Municipal Building. The first meeting in January will be Jan. 1 at the same time and location.
Ronica Shannon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 624-6608.