PIQUA — As the heroin epidemic continues to worsen with one of its most fatal years yet, the city of Piqua is doubling down on its response.
Piqua Chief of Police Bruce Jamison announced the beginning of the Protect Recovery Program during the Piqua City Commission meeting Tuesday evening. With the Piqua being near the epicenter of the epidemic, Jamison said, this program is working with the PROTECT Piqua Board, the Miami County Recovery Council (MCRC), and other organizations to try to remove barriers to treatment and recovery for drug-addicted residents.
Addicts are given the opportunity to have a HEART — Heroin Education and Addiction Recovery Team — meeting. HEART is composed of police officers, Piqua Fire and EMS personnel, recovery specialists, a chaplain for a faith-based perspective if desired, and a pharmacist. This team also has contact with overdose victims after every reported overdose to offer them help and access to resources.
“We have access to a treatment center in Florida,” Jamison said, noting the importance of removing addicts from the environment that may have contributed to their addiction problem.
Addicts can also have a recovery mentor assigned to them, of which the Protect Recovery Program is seeking more. They are looking for addicts who are in a successful recovery.
City Manager Gary Huff commended Jamison and the police department for how they “stepped up to try and address the addiction problems.” Earlier, Jamison said that the police department is committed to getting drug dealers off the streets in addition to this new team to help drug-addicted people. Huff noted that the department’s implementation of predictive policing by creating a community crime map and increasing patrols in areas with increases of crime has led to reductions in crimes.
“If you look at the crime statistics from … 2015 to 2016, we had a 50 percent reduction in robberies, a 15 percent reduction in property crimes, and a 5 percent in violent crimes,” Huff said. “We’re having some impact. We want to keep that trend going.”
The commission also approved a resolution completing the property acquisition process for the Staunton Street Solar Site. This resolution allowed the city of Piqua to trade ownership of equally-portioned half-acre pieces of land. The commission previously approved the purchase of properties from Piqua City Schools and another nearby property to allow development of this solar site. The city found that part of the land is not needed for the solar project, so the city and a neighboring property owner are exchanging sections of property that are approximately equivalent in value.
The Piqua Power System has been working with NextEra Energy Resources on the solar field, and a preliminary layout of the solar field has been designed. The construction of the solar field will begin in late 2017 or early 2018, with completion no later than mid-2018.
The commission also held the first reading of an ordinance to levy special assessments to pay for the cost of nuisance abatements. The city abates nuisance conditions on properties when the property owners do not comply with the city code, such as mowing high grass, removing trash, and so on. The city is seeking reimbursement of an approximate total of $55,807.
The commission then approved an emergency ordinance to authorize the annexation of land directly adjacent to the Wastewater Treatment Plant that was gifted from Piqua Materials. The land is being used for the expansion and upgrade project at the Wastewater Treatment Plant and will be incorporated into city limits.
Next on the agenda, the commission approved entering into a lease agreement allowing PJEF, Inc. PROTECT to use Mote Park as the location of the Hope over Heroin event on Aug. 11-12.
The commission then approved paying Brumbaugh Construction, Inc. for emergency repairs being made to the Hollow Park bridge. The cost is $74,315. The commission approved a total cost of $82,000, which includes a 10 percent contingency. The repair work has already begun and is expected to last approximately three weeks.
Following that resolution, the commission approved submitting an application to the Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC) State Capital Improvement Programs for the replacement of four wastewater pump stations and elimination of one station with a gravity flow sewer installation. The city can receive up to $1,899,560 in funding if approved.
During the announcement portion of the meeting, Ruth Koon, local activist and member of the Friends of the Piqua Parks, and Anna Baumeister of the Piqua Area Chamber of Commerce announced a school yard garden that approximately 250 Piqua fifth graders will utilize across from the Piqua Central Intermediate School at the former Nicklin School site. It will feature 13 raised garden beds. Saturday between 8-8:30 a.m. will be the build day for the garden at the former Nicklin School site.
Following that announcement, Mayor Kazy Hinds commended Hartzell Propeller for their 100th year of business.
“We do celebrate with Hartzell Propeller,” Hinds said.
Commissioner John Martin has been an employee with them for 29 years, prompting Hinds to say, “The employees of Hartzell are what make it the great place it is.”
Later during public comment, DJ Burns of Piqua asked about the Piqua Mill building on Main Street and if anything was being done to remove the building. Huff said that there have been private talks with the property owner and the city hopes to work with the property owner to get the building turned over to a developer as part of the continued redevelopment of the riverfront.
Reach Sam Wildow at email@example.com or (937) 451-3336