After concluding its first season, the Room in the Inn Berea program provided 1,212 meals and 268 beds with the help of more than 325 volunteer shifts in the last 59 days according to RITI representative, Sierra Marling.

RITI is a rotating shelter and meal program for individuals experiencing homelessness.

"The program is life changing and perspective changing," Marling said.

She informed the Berea City Council that the number one cited reason for homelessness this season was family issues or loss. Other reasons noted for people seeking assistance from RITI were housing availability, mental illness, addiction, domestic abuse, poverty and health care, which Marling said overlapped consistently.

"For example, a person with mental illness would also struggle with addiction or sometimes a combination of other things that made it impossible for them to climb the ladder out of the hole, get a home and get adequate health care," she said.

She noted that 7% of those coming to RITI were from out of state. Others came from areas in the commonwealth such as Annville, Paint Lick, Frankfort, McKee, Fredonia, Winchester, Richmond and, of course, Berea.

According to Marling, Richmond and Berea totaled 65% of the inn's visitors, and the highest participation was during the coldest days of the season.

She thanked local businesses such as restaurants and hair salons, as well as first responder agencies, for their support with groups having donated money or offered resources to help.

"You can't look at this impact and not feel the compassion that we felt," she said.

In the future, the group looks to increase its presence through social media and the press, as well as finding a permanent residence.

Diane Hatchett, superintendent of Berea Community Schools, also gave an update Tuesday night, first thanking the city of Berea and other community members for their support.

To date, Berea Community has 1,100 students, 73% of whom receive free and reduced lunch services, 16% are minorities, and 23% are special needs.

The school has a 97% graduation rate and 93% overall daily attendance rate, which she said she would like to see increase to 95%.

"Our primary goal is to graduate our students to be college and life ready," she smiled.

Hatchett expressed her pride to the council in stating that the high school scored 22nd in the state for ACT scores and is 10th in the district.

"Every kid in that school is special and unique," she said. "There is no stopping our kids. We might be small, but (that) doesn't mean we aren't powerful."

She encouraged council and community members to attend the school's 50th year celebration on Sept. 27-28.

"I encourage the council also to aim high and dare to be great like the Pirates," she said.

Other business

• Council member Steve Caudill made a motion after an executive session to authorize Mayor Bruce Fraley to negotiate property for structure related to the Cherry Road project, not to exceed $60,000.

• City Administrator Randy Stone gave said the U.S. 25 project continues to "go well" and has an end date of Sept. 1. He added that the bypass project still remains in "the talking stage" in Frankfort, and hopes to be in the bid process by the end of 2019.

• The Madison County Fire Department was congratulated for their recent ISO rating, depending on several factors of the department's operations, going from a class 3 to a class 2, which lowers insurance rates for residents of Berea.

• Berea Police Chief David Gregory reminded everyone to stay safe for the July 4th holiday and to remain patient in police response times as they receive a high volume of calls.

The next Berea City Council meeting will be July 16 at the Berea Municipal Building at 6:30 p.m. at 304 Chestnut St., Berea.

Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter @TaylorSixRR.

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