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Berne Mayor John Minch delivered his eighth and final State of the City address on Tuesday during a noon luncheon sponsored by the Berne Chamber of Commerce.
Minch is in the last year of his second term as Berne mayor and has indicated he will not seek re-election this year. The lone announced mayoral candidate to date, former council president Bill McKean, was in attendance at Tuesday's meeting.
In his address, Minch deflected credit for any progress made by the community during the past seven years, choosing instead to laud the efforts of elected officials, municipal employees, civic volunteers and citizens for their roles in "making Berne one of the best cities in Indiana to raise a family."
"The state of the city is its citizens, and what a fine citizenry we have," said Minch.
Calling the State of the City talk "a reflection of my tenure as mayor," Minch said his three goals upon taking office included solving present problems, preparing for the future and preserving the past.
The most challenging of the goals, he said, was helping bring the city into full compliance with Indiana Department of Environmental Management regulations regarding sewer and wastewater regulations and the elimination of Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs).
"And, with the support of Berne's elected and appointed officials, and the amazing cooperation of the citizens of this community, much progress has been achieved," Minch said. "Three projects have been successfully undertaken in the last five years to separate sewers, construct new storm water holding ponds and to eliminate CSOs. With financially sound planning the city has met the challenges with a minimized financial impact on our citizens."
But Minch said the city must continue to "remain vigilant in addressing our infrastructure needs; we cannot stand pat, and we cannot dare assume our work is done."
Because of the emphasis on infrastructure improvements over the past seven years, said the mayor, the city's growth and prosperity can be witnessed through the "renewed sense of civic pride and confidence" that is evident on several fronts. Minch cited a new First Bank of Berne branch office along U.S. 27, a new Muselman Wellness Center, First Mennonite Church family life center, expansion projects at FCC (Adams), Smith Bros. Furniture and Swiss Village, and the Muensterberg Clock Tower and Plaza as examples of that civic pride.
"Even in these difficult economic times, we can honestly say we stand at the ready for new business and industries to come to Berne. It is exciting to know that, if the coming years are met with due diligence, Berne will continue to be a great place to live and raise a family," Minch said.
"Berne is a mix of stunning new horizons and historical buildings," the mayor concluded. "Names of families from long ago, and names that have settled here in recent years. But we all share one thing in common: We all call Berne 'home.'
"I assure you that, in the coming months, I will be filled with the same enthusiasm I brought to my first year in office. I continue to be blessed to serve the citizens of Berne as your mayor."