Bicyclists prove themselves

PIQUA — An overwhelming 8,884 miles were completed by 73 bicyclists during the Piqua Bike Challenge for the month of May, as stated during a special presentation during the Piqua City Commission meeting on Tuesday evening. This amount of mileage would have allowed for multiple cross-country trips. For comparison, Los Angeles is 2,197 miles from Piqua.

“Right now, under this National Bike Challenge, Piqua is number 8 nationally,” Jim Hemmert, Piqua resident and local cycling enthusiast, said. “We are definitely peddling around town.”

For Bike to Work Week alone, nearly 4,000 miles were covered via bicycling. Piqua City Planner Chris Schmiesing and Hemmert handed out this year’s Silver Pedal Awards to the winners of the Bike to Work Week challenge on Tuesday evening, including an individual, a small business, a large business, and a student group.

“This year, a person who rides his bike to work every week, every day, traveling 839 during Bike to Work Week, Mr. Mike Treon of Treon Barber Styling,” Hemmert said.

“Keep peddling,” Piqua Mayor Lucy Fess said to Mike Treon.

Piqua Family Practice was the Small Business Award winner and rode 592 miles during Bike to Work Eeek. Miami Valley Steel was the winner of the large business category, riding a total 2,078 miles during that week. Bennett School was the student group category winner.

“Bennett School students have a program where their PE classes go out on the bike path, and they either run it or ride it,” Hemmert said. The Bennett School students did 750 miles during Bike to Work Week.

The benefits discussed with this increase in bicycling included utilizing less gasoline and providing a healthier means of transportation for work or everyday errands.

“It’s a culture change,” Hemmert said. “It’s been very good.”

During Tuesday evening’s commission meeting, Elizabeth and Mike Gutmann, co-chairs of the 2015 Miami Valley Cycling Summit, gave a report on the summit. According to Mike Gutmann, there were over 370 people registered for the event and 354 confirmed their registration at the event. The total attendance was around 444 people, including the attendance to a VIP social the day before.

“Twenty-three people got up early enough to ride to the event,” Mike Gutmann said.

According to Mike Gutmann, they raised approximately $17,000 for support of the 2015 Miami Valley Cycling Summit.

“We were thrifty enough that we were able to carry over about $6,000 to a special project that we can use in our community,” Mike Gutmann said.

“The hotel just shined,” Elizabeth Gutmann said about the Fort Piqua Plaza. She said that she heard many positive comments about the location and the summit.

“Not only was this a Piqua event, this was a regional event,” Elizabeth Gutmann said. “I think if you were there, you were impressed.”

She stated that they were excited to host the Mayor of Pittsburgh, Mike Peduto, as their keynote speaker for the event, and they were pleased with his inspirational speech.

“That room was full, and people were listening to everything he said,” Elizabeth Gutmann said.

“That event was amazing,” Fess said. Fess thanked Elizabeth and Mike Gutmann for the “wonderful job” that they did on running the Cycling Summit, saying that they made the city proud.

“You made the city look so good,” Fess said.

Included the special presentations held Tuesday evening was a proclamation from Fess, thanking the Piqua Fourth of July Association for their “excellent and dedicated service to our community” for nearly 50 years. The Piqua Fourth of July Association will be turning over the Independence Day holiday fireworks to the city in 2016. This year will be their “grand finale,” Fess said.

“Thank you seems like such a small thing to say,” Fess said. “We will miss all of you.”

“It was a really hard decision,” Diane Miller, president of the Piqua Fourth of July Association, said. “It breaks my heart that we’re doing this.”

The commission then received a piece of artwork from the Piqua branch of the Ohio Army National Guard. It was large, framed photo mosaic.

“Tonight we would like to present this token of our appreciation to the city of Piqua for your long-standing support of our soldiers and our organization throughout the years,” Sergeant First-Class Robert Shattuck said, joined by Sergeant John Hampton and Staff-Sergeant Brian Crawford who held the artwork during the presentation.

“From a distance you’ll see the image of the American Flag, our greatest symbol of freedom and democracy,” Shattuck said about the photo mosaic. “A closer look will reveal that the flag’s comprised of hundreds of smaller images of our citizen-soldiers in service to their country, state, and local communities.”

“We can’t say enough for you who put your lives on the line,” Fess said. “This is absolutely beautiful, and we will… display it with great pride here in city hall, and I thank you very, very much for your service and this lovely tribute.”

Finally, Fess presented retired firefighter-paramedic Jim Drieling with a resolution of appreciation from the city for his 25 years working with the Piqua Fire Department.

“We wish you a wonderful retirement,” Fess said. “Thank you for your service to the city of Piqua.”

NOTE: A previous version of this article stated that $70,000 was raised in for support of the 2015 Miami Valley Cycling Summit. It was actually $17,000.