MIAMI and SHELBY Counties — The new year is upon us and area leaders are making plans for a healthy and prosperous 2014 in Troy, Piqua and Sidney. The following is a wish list of hopes and dreams for their communities and themselves for the new year.
• Richard Hanes, superintendent of Piqua City Schools, outlined several wishes for the school district’s students, parents and staff, as well as for the community:
“For students: To offer great experiences and opportunities to build a great educational foundation for their lives. For parents: To provide a safe and nurturing environment for their children to grow their talents and skills. For staff: To provide an environment which allows staff talents, skills and contributions to make a difference in the lives of our students. For our community: To complete two of our three new elementary buildings and continue our commitment to financial stewardship by providing quality education for our children.”
• Bill Lutz, Development Program Manager, City of Piqua: “I would like to see all of our residents get more engaged with what the city is doing, either through some of the online activities or different programs we’re offering. When we get citizens engaged, they have more pride in their community.”
Among the online programs Lutz said he’d like to see Piquads get involved with is Nextdoor.com, which allows residents to interact and develop relationships with their neighbors. Using the website, people can ask neighbors for advice, recommendations or favors, and share community news.
“We currently have about 170 residents on the site and we’d love to see more get involved,” Lutz said.
• Piqua Police Department Chief Bruce Jamison mentioned two primary goals the department will pursue this year. “One, we want to get our staffing up to approved levels and we hope the revenues could bring us to the levels we were used to 10 years ago, when we were shorthanded. We have enough in our budget for two positions and we just have to go through the hiring and selection process. That’s a challenge whenever we’re shorthanded,” he said.
“Our second thing would be to hopefully continue our efforts to get back on a reasonable fleet replacement plan on an ongoing basis. It’s the best practice to rotate vehicles before they get to the point that they’re costing you a lot of money. When the recession hit in 2008, we had to put our fleet replacement plan on hold. Now that we’re coming back from that, the first steps we took were to replace some of the cars with used vehicles just to catch up and for the safety of the officers.
“(In 2013), we were able to get two new cruisers that replaced vehicles that were 14-15 years old. Our hope would be in 2014 to replace three more. Hopefully, revenues will pick back up in the city and we’ll be able to stay on a responsible and reasonable fleet replacement plan again.”
City Council members weigh in:
• Marty Baker, president, said two new additional ward councilmen will be added to Troy City Council in 2014, giving the residents of the city greater representation with new ideas in city government.
In addition, “We will see a major change in the landscape along West Main Street with the demolition of the Hobart Brothers Company factory and am hopeful that the canal lock that was located under that building, as well as the archway and clock that forms the bridge over Adams Street, will, in some way, be remembered in the landscape that may be forthcoming,” she said. “We will see the opening of the new soup kitchen on North Mulberry Street. And I am hopeful that the city and the Troy Development Council will continue to work together to bring additional jobs to the community.”
In reference to the world outside of Miami County, Baker said she also has high hopes for the new year. For family and friends, Baker offers,
“Health, happiness and peace are what I wish for family, friends and residents of the city. I would encourage them to get involved in the community … volunteer, read to a child, check out and enjoy all the good things offered within our city and county. There are so many free activities offered by places such as Lincoln Center, Troy-Hayner Cultural Center, the Miami County Park District, Brukner Nature Center, the Troy Rec — and certainly there is something for everyone.”
• Tom Kendall, councilman: “Good paying jobs are the life line of a community. I hope to see our local and county development teams be able to bring new businesses in, that will provide the jobs needed,”
• Al Clark, councilman: “I would like to be able to maintain or enhance the services we offer to our community and still maintain our costs with a balanced budget.”
• Bobby Phillips, councilman: “Hopefully the state of Ohio will not negatively impact revenues for municipalities in any fashion, our local businesses to continue to grow and more businesses will see the advantages of coming to Troy. I wish we could fully staff the police, fire and maintenance staff to better benefit our residents.”
• John Schweser, councilman:
“Troy is the jewel of southwest Ohio. As Trojans we should, at times step back and appreciate all the amenities we have to offer such as our park system, our picturesque downtown, Hobart Arena, bike and recreational trails, terrific school system, access to worldwide travel and so much more. In addition, we enjoy a community that gives freely of their time by volunteering for our concerts, festivals, and all the non-profit organizations that improve the lives of fellow Trojans. All this with the cost of living being in the bottom third of the region. That is a pretty good bang for the buck. We are truly blessed in all that Troy offers.”
• Doug Tremblay, councilman: Tremblay said an increase of economic activity will help the residents of Troy and a moratorium by the state of Ohio to stop balancing their budget on the backs of municipalities will help also.
• Karin Manovich, executive director of Troy Main Street: “In my position as an advocate for downtown Troy, it is my hope that 2014 brings many visitors to the district to patronize shops and restaurants. We are so fortunate to have a vibrant downtown with more than 80 walk-in businesses. My wish is that they all thrive, and that locals and others continue to support them. “I would love to see new businesses open in 2014 and am working very hard to make that happen. Of course, I wouldn’t mind a return visit from Mumford & Sons … but that seems unlikely.”
She said personally, for the residents of the area she hopes they continue to support each other. “I would like to ask everyone to hold onto the civic pride, volunteerism, camaraderie, and excitement that exploded in Troy in 2013 and make it a part of 2014. I am eternally grateful to all for the kindness and support shown to my staff and me during a rigorous 2013.”
• Michael Barhorst, mayor of Sidney and president of Lehman Catholic High School, listed his personal goals for 2014 as, “Spending more time with family and friends, working to improve the community and conducting historical research.”
• Chief William Balling of the Sidney Police Department resolves to “listen more and better. I’m going to seek to understand the other person’s point of view and emotions, and force myself not to evaluate, judge, or offer my own point of view until I am sure I have understood theirs.
• John Scheu, Superintendent of Sidney City Schools, said he intends to “double my efforts to pass a needed renewal/reduction school levy in May.”
• Sheriff John Lenhart of the Shelby County Sheriff Department said in 2014 he will “help elect a state representative that listens and works with local elected officials on behalf of Shelby County citizens.”
— Staff writers Melody Vallieu, Patricia Speelman, Melanie Speicher and Belinda M. Paschal contributed to this report.