Identity theft is a problem that is spreading worldwide, and that does not exclude Berea Municipal Utilities.

The Berea City Council adopted a policy Tuesday providing for the creation and implementation of an identity theft detection program at Berea Municipal Utilities.

This move is a requirement of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction (FACT) of 2003, which was created to prevent identity theft at financial institutions or other creditors, including utility companies, according to the policy.

The program must be in place by May 1 and will require utility companies to create a written log of “Red Flags” or warning signs of identity theft.

Just a few of the things Berea utilities workers will now be on the lookout for include altered documents, false identification cards and forged applications.

“We’re to look for potential I.D. theft situations that could be through Internet services or other means,” said Donald Blackburn, manager of Berea Municipal Utilities. “If we think we have a problem, we’re to investigate, and if we determine there is something, we have to report it. If someone calls and asks for information, we have to determine that they are in fact the person who is listed on the account.”

Call Berea Municipal Utilities at 985-1218 for more information about the new identity theft protection system.

In other business:

• The council unanimously passed an ordinance allowing the annexation of the Berea Bypass right of way, consisting of approximately 18 acres, into corporate limits.

• The council also passed the second reading of an ordinance that would help citizens in a time of disaster.

“This has to do with a person who has had credit or a service with our utilities,” said Berea City Administrator Randy Stone. “If a fire happens at their home, if they have to move out of that home, they have to pay a deposit on their new place. If they’ve had good standing on their first residence, then on the second one they would not have to pay a utility deposit.”

• Paula Woodman, director of the Berea Senior Citizen Center, asked the council for their assistance in funding the center during the 2009-2010 fiscal year budget.

“In the past, we’ve been able to provide services without any type of cuts,” she said. “But, this past year has been quite different. We have received state budget cuts, cuts through the United Way and on top of this, we have more requests for services than ever.”

The center offers several services and forms of recreation to the senior citizen population, and also has a home meal delivery system. However, if more funding is not found, they may have to cut down on the number of people they serve and Woodman said she would not want to do that.

She asked that the council consider supplementing $5,000 a year to help continue the services provided by the center. The council did not take a vote Tuesday as to whether or not they would agree to supply the $5,000 annually.

Volunteers and monetary donations from the community are welcome. Anyone interested can call Woodman at 986-8350.

• Berea Mayor Steve Connelly proclaimed the week of April 13-17 as Sara Care Week.

Sara Elizabeth Kennedy was 18 when she died of cancer in March 2005. She was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare childhood cancer in the summer of 2004. The annual fundraising event will be Friday, April 17, at Union Church, 213 Prospect St. Funds raised from past events have helped purchase televisions with both DVD and VHS players for each bed in the Kentucky Children’s Hospital’s pediatric cancer unit, which was where Kennedy was treated.

Sara Care funds also help families of patients with special needs throughout the year Connelly presented Sara’s parents, Eddie and Norma Kennedy, the proclamation certificate at Tuesday’s meeting.

•David Sowder, transportation director for Kentucky River Foothills gave an update about ridership of the organization’s new Berea/Richmond transit service.

Between January 2008 and March 2009, approximately 10,000 people have taken advantage of the service, Sowder said.

The transit services have more than 20 stops in both Richmond and Berea.

Kentucky River Foothills also recently purchased a 12-passenger bus with two wheelchair-accessible ramps, opposed to the current 24-passenger bus with no wheelchair accessibility.

The transit service operates from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. throughout the week and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends.

“It’s a good service for the senior citizens,” Sowder said. “They really appreciate it and there’s a lot of people here in Berea who depend on this service.”

Sowder has partnered with Belle Jackson, director of the Berea Tourism Department, to develop a trolley route that will take people through Berea accompanied by a tour guide. This service is to begin in May, he said.

Ronica Shannon can be reached at rshannon@richmondregister.com or 624-6608.

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