McKean looks forward to working from mayor’s seat

Authored by Jim Langham on Dec 30, 2011

Berne's new mayor, Bill McKean, said in a recent interview that he is looking forward to serving the city he has lived in and loves, from a different perspective.
"We all bring a different perspective to this office," said McKean. "Things have been a little bit different since Blaine Fulton served as mayor. Most mayors came through the council before being elected mayor. The last two mayors, Blaine and John Minch, came directly to this office.
"Even though I spent many years on the council, I realize that I have an awful lot to learn about being mayor," continued McKean. "I have some different ideas because I sat on council under three mayors, Delmar Neuenschwander, Blaine and the last four years under John. I have a real feel for being on the other side of the table."
McKean said he likes to think of himself mainly as a blue-collar person. He said that he has never served as an administrator such as previous Mayor Minch.
"John served as a principal. I've been a blue-collar type person," said McKean.
"One of my biggest hopes is that in the next four years, we can continue the services that we do," said McKean. "Look how many cuts there have been in a lot of the businesses and schools.
"We have a real good work force; so far we have been able to keep things going," McKean said. "At my work (barber shop), people come in from other towns and say that they've never seen a town like ours that does such a good job on snow removal. We have a top-notch work force. I hope that we don't have to step back on anything."
McKean said that he feels privileged to serve on a city government with a clerk-treasurer who has the outstanding reputation of Gwen Maller.
"Few communities our size have a CPA as a clerk-treasurer," commented the mayor. "As mayor, I will be serving on the Adams County Board of Economic Development. I've already talked with (executive director) Larry Macklin. It would be neat if we could bring more business into Berne. However, every community out there is trying to do the same thing. It's a very competitive field."
"I was council president when FCC came to Berne," continued McKean. "Mayor Fulton and the city attorney worked hard on this. With their good experience in Portland and Jay County, Berne looked good to them."
McKean said that he hopes to take time during the next few weeks to meet with the various industry and business leaders in the community.
The mayor said that he is aware that the local government doesn't have a pot of gold to offer, but he wants businesses to be aware that city officials are willing to do anything they can to help support their business efforts.
McKean said that he likes the expression, "nothing good ever happens fast."
"The main thing is to try to be consistent and build on what has already been accomplished," noted McKean.
Concerning the local infrastructure, McKean said that he understands that the current local status is ahead of the agreed order with state officials. The mayor said that one thing that would be an advantage to the community would be if a line could be run from behind the police station to the north interceptor line.
"If we could do that, then the area west of Village Way would be all separated," said McKean. "If we can do that, all of the raw sewage out there would never come into the line in Berne. That would be a real advantage for us."
McKean has spent his lifetime married to classmate Linda (Reusser) McKean.
They have three children, Craig, April Spagnola and Jill Stutzman, and nine grandchildren.
In addition to his business at the barbershop, McKean is active in his faith, First Mennonite Church.
"I enjoy sports quite a bit. I try to follow the Stars as much as I can," said McKean.
"This is a very humbling thing. I have lived in Berne all of my life. I think a lot of Berne," said McKean. "I want to do the best that I can to contribute to the work that other mayors have done. I am fortunate to have a very good council.
"I was on the council for 24 years; I can't tell you one vote that was taken where council didn't seriously consider what they felt was the right thing to do."
McKean said that at the time, he wanted to be a councilman a lot more than he wanted to be a mayor.
"After you've been on council so many years, and you've got the feel, there is a sense in which you have the feel that you want to step up," McKean said.
"The last time I lost by a small margin. It was a hard decision to run again. Losing is a hard thing to do. I know I lost to a good opponent; there was no problem with that. I asked myself the question, ' is this something I want to try again?' I served on the Hope Clinic Board. I found that very rewarding so I decided I wanted to try again," McKean said.
"I am very humbled," added McKean. "I really care about my community. I've always wanted to live here. I never had the feeling that I wanted to move away from here. I'm glad it worked out for me to spend my life in Berne."

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