Berger speaks at Rotary


By Josh Ellerbrock - jellerbrock@limanews.com



Lima Mayor David Berger delivered an update of some recent initiatives undertaken by the city during Monday afternoon’s Lima Rotary meeting.

Lima Mayor David Berger delivered an update of some recent initiatives undertaken by the city during Monday afternoon’s Lima Rotary meeting.


Josh Ellerbrock | The Lima News

LIMA — After 29 years in office, Mayor Berger has given plenty of “state of the city” speeches, and the latest, delivered before the Lima Rotary Monday afternoon, highlighted some of the latest initiatives the mayor has pushed along in 2018.

Berger focused his talk along three topics — the need for political action, especially concerning civil rights, a recently announced Youth Commission and the success of integrated planning, or a type of bargaining tool meant to balance the needs of local, state and federal agencies.

A call to action for civil rights

While Martin Luther King Day was celebrated in the morning, Berger called for more than just kind words to celebrate the influential historical figure. As the national conversation around race continues to sharpen political divides, Berger asked the crowd to educate themselves of the history of civil rights to better understand the issues at stake.

“We have to also look at what else is happening right now, when we have speakers in any number of forums, including in the Congress of the United States, heralding white supremacy, actually talking about ideas that, in my view, are entirely reprehensible and do not represent the United States of America that I’ve been raised in and I love,” Berger said. “It’s really important at a time like this, that we take some actions. That we don’t just go to a breakfast and celebrate or say nice things at lunch like today.”

Mental health concerns and the youth commission

According to Berger’s speech, he once asked Lima City Schools Superintendent Jill Ackerman what was the biggest problem that schools face, and she quickly gave her answer — mental health support. The Youth Commission was created to help in that area.

Announced past Friday, the commission consists of roughly 200 organizations working together to curb some of the most pressing mental health issues affecting the community’s youth. From high rates of suicide to the reverberations caused by the opioid crisis, the Youth Commission’s first steps are to provide pilot after-school programs for students at Lima North Middle School and St. Gerard School. Berger said in the future, he would like to see the commission expand to provide mental health support for all of Lima’s youth.

“We as adults have to step in. We have to intervene. We have to create other ways for these children to have lives that are healthy — to have lives where they are motivated to seek excellence,” Berger said.

Integrated planning

In a recently passed federal bill signed by President Donald Trump, integrated planning is set as the national standard to weigh federal mandates with local budgets. Initially used by Berger to prevent the city from having to fulfill a $440 million demand by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to overhaul the city’s wastewater treatment plants, Berger has touted the decision-making tool as an effective way to weigh the concerns of governments involved in enforcing pricey mandates.

“We will have the opportunity to always establish priorities based upon what is environmentally important, based on what’s important to the public health, and based upon what we can afford. And over time, rejigger that back and forth to redefine what we can do now versus what we have to postpone and do later,” Berger said. “We understand we have to do certain things, but we’re going to do it on a timetable we can manage and fiscal way that is responsible to the community and the pocketbook of the community.”

Berger also answered questions from the audience concerning the ongoing controversy surrounding Allen County’s contract with the Lima Building Department, how the county can utilize integrated planning, the role of religion in addressing mental health problems affecting the youth and the budget and staffing levels of the City of Lima. He also highlighted the major expansion of the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center, known as the tank plant.

“I suppose we can also be thankful for Mr. Putin because when he moved those tanks into Ukraine and threatened others, all of a sudden the Abrams tank was all that stood in his way. It’s really important for our nation’s security long term when he have vehicles that will be an effective way of projecting U.S. power and also protecting our soldiers,” Berger said.

Lima Mayor David Berger delivered an update of some recent initiatives undertaken by the city during Monday afternoon’s Lima Rotary meeting.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2019/01/web1_Berger_Rotary.jpgLima Mayor David Berger delivered an update of some recent initiatives undertaken by the city during Monday afternoon’s Lima Rotary meeting. Josh Ellerbrock | The Lima News

By Josh Ellerbrock

jellerbrock@limanews.com

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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