LIMA — In Lima Mayor David Berger’s latest State of the City address — delivered before the Rotary Club of Lima Monday — the long-serving mayor highlighted the people of Lima’s resilience to a history of hard knocks.
“My sense about the state of our city, is that we are, in fact, a place that has talent, has energy. We’re a place that cares for itself, and has demonstrated that over time, we can take a hit and come back,” Berger said. “There are many things that are happening in our community that are positive examples of what can happen when people work together.”
Berger organized his remarks around a chapter in a book titled “Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America,” which focuses on 10 and a half things that author James Fallow identified as signs of a city’s civic success.
Berger moved through each item on Fallow’s list and explained how Lima has been able to incorporate those ideas throughout the decades. Here are a few highlights.
On bipartisan efforts: “The success last year of the (Regional Transit Authority) levy is a good example of how a community, in fact, came together to think about, on literally a countywide business, about how public transit affects the lives of people, and businesses, and institutions, all across the county.”
On public-private partnerships: “We are in(side) an institution (Veterans Memorial Civic Center) that I think is a premier example of a public-private partnership that began 35 years ago when people came together publicly and privately to raise money — an incredible amount of money at the time,” Berger said. “You can look around our community and find innumerable examples.”
On schools: “Anybody that has listened to (Superintendent) Jill Ackerman over the last couple of years describe, dive into detail, of what in fact is in the curriculum and the caring response of the staff and leadership of Lima city schools has to applaud what they’ve accomplished and what they accomplish every day.”
Berger’s remarks on Lima’s resilience stemmed from Fallow’s fourth point about a community knowing its civic story.
“I think if you asked anybody that’s been here for a while, the story (of Lima) is about resilience,” Berger said. “The story is how we took it hit, many hits, and kept coming back.”
Berger pointed to last week’s triple homicide in a downtown bar as an example of the city’s resilience.
“I think anybody’s response to that was to see it as a breathtaking violation of our commitment. And our attitude about it should be that we cannot allow that kind of behavior to define us,” Berger said.
Lima, however, does fail to check at least one of Fallow’s boxes. It lacks a nearby research university.
As for the “half” point, Fallow writes in 2016: “One final marker, perhaps the most reliable: A city on the way back will have one or more craft breweries, and probably some small distilleries, too.”
While Lima is a little late to the craft brewery party, Rob Nelson, owner of The Met, is currently developing Lima’s first modern brewery in a downtown warehouse.
“We will in fact, suddenly meet, actually nine and a half of these characteristics,” Berger said.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.