By a unanimous vote, the Gering City Council hired area native Kerri Schnase-Berge as its new city clerk and executive assistant to the city administrator.
The city received 61 applications for the position and interviewed eight candidates.
Schnase-Berge is a 1993 graduate of Scottsbluff High School after attending K-8 at the old Haig School. It was there she first met her future husband, John Berge, in the fourth grade.
“My father worked for Great Western Sugar and was transferred to Denver in my senior year,” she said in a telephone interview. “After graduating from Scottsbluff, the family moved to Colorado and I attended the University of Colorado.”
Her first job out of college was a receptionist with the Colorado State Senate. Work on some political campaigns followed that.
“Then I was fortunate enough to land a position as the special assistant to the president of the University of Colorado,” Schnase-Berge said. “I was there for five years and served three different presidents.”
It was during her time in Colorado that she reconnected with John Berge. After five years of a long distance relationship, she decided to come home to the Valley. Her first job back home was serving as the western Nebraska field representative for Sen. Ben Nelson.
“I was only there for about a year when John received an opportunity to move to Washington and serve as White House liaison to the Department of Agriculture,” she said. “We were engaged at the time, so I came out with him and we’ve been here in Washington for two years.”
Schnase-Berge currently works with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. But both she and her husband knew they wanted to return to Nebraska at some point.
“We’ve wanted to come back to our house in Gering,” she said. “We love the area and have been on the lookout for possible jobs. Our time in Washington was an adventure for us and we’ve had a really fun time. Now we want to come home.”
Schnase-Berge said she’s looking forward to assisting the city administrator, council and mayor to help Gering grow and thrive. A concern she’s had for a number of years about small communities is that younger people are leaving because they see limited opportunities. She wants to help make small town Nebraska more appealing to a younger demographic group.
“My heart has been in government my whole life and I enjoy helping people,” she said. “I’m happy when government works for people and I like to be part of the process in making government more accessible to people.”
Schnase-Berge begins her new job as Gering City Clerk on April 18.