By Ronica Shannon
Senior News Writer
Editor’s Note: This the final story in a series profiling candidates for Berea City Council. The council is comprised of eight members plus the mayor.
Richard Bellando, 72
This is the second full term on the Berea City Council for Richard Bellando, however, he also served in the mid-1980s for about one year.
Bellando is the retired co-owner of Churchill Weavers, formerly located in Berea.
He was encouraged to run by “several people on the city council who I respected, he said. “You can sit around and complain about things, but that doesn’t help. If you’re going to complain, you out to get in there and do something about it. Having been retired, I could devote more time to it. It’s really been a delight, and I’ve really enjoyed my work with the council.”
Some of the toughest issues facing the council now include the unfunded federal mandate to regulate storm-water, he said.
“We don’t know how we can pay for it. That’s still in the works,” he said. “The other issue I think is the expansion of our reservoir. In the past, government funding has helped us with the development of watershed with the Owsley Fork Dam.”
Berea’s growing population also presents new challenges for council members.
“We’re always dealing with roads and the maintenance of our own city streets,” he said. “And the possibility of maybe some revenue enhancements. I’m not a proponent of increased taxes, but if we need to look toward the future, how are we going to deal with the increased for services as we grow?”
Bellando said he has no particular agenda in being a city council member.
“I’ve tried to work hard in the past to represent the city in a responsible way,” he said.
Thirty years on the Berea City Council and 29 years as a teacher for berea Community Schools makes Violet Farmer a more-than-qualified Berea City Council member, she said.
Looking back at the city’s accomplishments since she’s been on the council was a daunting task, “because there’s so many,” she said.
Seeing the city’s first industrial park come to fruition was a major milestone that involved three new industries that “literally provided hundreds of jobs for Berea which we desperately needed,” she said.
“One of the first projects I worked on was retirement for city employees,” Farmer said. “When I first started the council, there was no retirement.”
Another milestone was closing the city’s landfill “without having to increase taxes or borrow any money, which we were told we would have to do.”
The expansion of city parks is something that Farmers holds dear, she said.
“We have added 30 acres there off Jefferson Street and have expanded programming for the park so that we have activities for all age groups and all ability levels.”
The Berea College graduate said she 努orks for the betterment of Berea and want to see Berea be everything it can be. I realize the importance of the college to the city.
Economic development remains at the forefront of major struggles for cities and counties across the U.S., and that includes Berea, she said.
“Employment opportunities have to be available, otherwise, you lose your young people and that’s our future, she said.
“I feel like I have a vision for Berea’s future and I believe in planning and looking ahead,” she said.
Jim Lucas, 68
After 30 years of service with the U.S. Army and in the federal civil service, Jim Lucas said he is ready to serve his community on a local level.
“I’ve never run for political office before, but I had a number of friends ask me to run,” Lucas said. “I also attend all the city council meetings and work sessions. I’m an interested citizens.
“I always say that the city council and the mayor have their fingers in my wallet, so I want to make sure the tax dollars are spent well. I just think it’s important to be involved in the communities I live in.”
Lucas said that although Berea does a “pretty good job” on budgeting and financing, “I think there could be more efficient ways to run the government,” he said. “We’re going to be facing unfunded (federal) requirements and that’s going to cost money. Even though we have a surplus of around $6 million, we’re going to have to look at new sources of revenue somewhere down the line. I’m for keeping taxes at a minimum while maintaining services.”
When Berea voters search out which candidates who will best represent them, “I think if you look at my background, I’ve had a successful military and civilian career,” he said. “I have had success in the community efforts that I’ve been involved with. Although I like all the current incumbents, I think it’s good to infuse any operation with new blood after a while.”
More can be learned about Lucas by visiting www.jimlucasberea.com.
Chester Powell, 64
A 12-year veteran of the Berea City Council and owner of Powell’s Towing and Truck Service Chester Powell, 64, is seeking a seat on the council because “They can’t seem to figure out how to work together to get the job done,” he said. “I believe with my experience with knowing city government and 43 years of being in business and having to meet a payroll and balance a budget, that I’m well qualified. I want to try and get people to work together and get Berea back on the right track.”
One of the biggest issues facing Berea at the moment is the drug-abuse epidemic.
“Every family has been touched by drugs,” he said. “There’s just not enough we can do.”
Aside from the drug issues, others include growth on the Berea Bypass and storm-water drainage problems, according to Powell.
Exploring the possibility of building a convention/conference center in Berea also should be a priority for council members, he said.
“I think we have the money to do that and that should be well on its way now,” Powell said. “I don’t know what we did with that money. That’s something I’d really like to look into.”
Powell said je has nothing to gain personally from running for Berea City Council.
“I’m not running for myself,” he said. “I want the voters to help me help them.”
Ronnie Terrill, 65
Operating a cow and calf operation on this grandfather’s farm and serving as a council member for three years has kept Ronnie Terrill busy, but he wants to keep it that way.
He retired from IBM/LexMark after 39 years, but now serves as a council member and is running again “because the citizens of Berea need a voice, and I think I try to speak up for them,” he said.
As many Berea City Council candidates, Terrill said one of the city’s most important issues at hand is the federally mandated storm-drainage project.
“We don’t know what kind of money we’re going to have to spend on it,” he said.
Because Berea reached a population of more than 10,000 on the most recent census, the city is required to do the storm-water upgrades.
Citizens who want their voice to be heard should vote for him and Jerry Little as well, he said.
They speak out of behalf of the citizens, he said.
Ronica Shannon can be reached at email@example.com or 624-6608.