Minch wraps it up

    Barring an 11th-hour emergency session later this month, Mayor John Minch presided over his final meeting of Berne City Council on Monday, wrapping up an eight-year reign as the city's leader and principal spokesman.
    Minch, a Democrat, will conclude his second term as mayor on Dec. 31. He had determined earlier this year that he would not seek re-election.
    Assuming the mayor's seat on Jan. 1 will be Republican Bill McKean, a longtime member of the city council who easily won election in November after losing to Minch by a mere three votes in 2007.
    The outgoing mayor thanked the city council for its cooperation "and for the number of projects that got done" during his years as mayor. He also extended his thanks to clerk-treasurer Gwen Maller (who was not in attendance), city employees and to his administrative assistant, Becky Sprunger.
    Sprunger will remain in that capacity when McKean takes office.
    Also attending their final council meetings in an official capacity on Monday were Councilman Mike Poulson and City Attorney Bob Biberstein.
    Poulson, a Democrat, was defeated by political newcomer Philip Provost for the city's at-large council seat during the November general election. He had served more than six years on the council, the last four as its at-large member.
    "Working with you all has been an honor and a privilege, and I appreciate what we've accomplished," Poulson said.
    Biberstein served as the city attorney for seven years. The attorney serves at the pleasure of the mayor and McKean had said on election night that there was "a good chance for change" in the attorney position. McKean has not officially named a new city attorney.
    Council President Gregg Sprunger, at the conclusion of Monday's meeting, presented Minch, Poulson and Biberstein with gift clocks "as a token of our appreciation" for the dedication those three public servants have given to the city.