Commission receives economic development update


New restaurant announced for Wayne Street

By Sam Wildow - Miami Valley Today



Lawsuit settlement remains point of contention

During the announcement portion of the meeting, Larry Hamilton of Piqua also expressed concern about the city’s recent lawsuit settlement, particularly in regard to the allegations against City Manager Gary Huff that alleged he may have discriminated against a city employee who is African-American. The lawsuit settlement cleared Huff of those allegations.

“I found it to be disturbing, particularly of some allegations of a racial nature, and I have contacted City Manager Huff and City Attorney Patrizio to inquire the availability of the paper trail,” Hamilton said, adding that City Attorney Frank Patrizio supplied Hamilton with documents in regard to Hamilton’s request. “I appreciate the due diligence in the response in that regard.”

Bill Jaqua of Piqua later brought these allegations up again, asking for exposure on the issue.

“I think it was adequately explained at the last meeting when we voted on it,” Mayor Kazy Hinds said.

Patrizio said he already said “all that needs to be said” in regard to the settlement, but he reiterated that the settlement did not admit any wrongdoing on behalf of the city of Piqua or Huff.

“There are sometimes where you settle for various reasons, to limit risks, to limit costs. This thing could have cost more for the city to fight than what we paid out,” Patrizio said.

Jaqua responded, saying people wanted to know “if the city manager’s a racist or not.”

Commissioner Kris Lee came to Huff’s defense, saying, “He’s not a racist. If I thought he was, I would call him out.”

Hinds added the settlement was “not for anything wrong,” but was “the best financial option” before asking Jaqua to sit down. Jaqua objected to sitting down, saying he had not had his five minutes of speaking time for public comment.

PIQUA — Community and Economic Development Director Chris Schmiesing provided an extensive look into the city of Piqua’s economic development efforts — including the city’s efforts to find incentives for businesses to locate in Piqua, along with efforts to develop talent and promote business growth locally — during the Piqua City Commission meeting on Tuesday evening.

“Economic development is very much a team sport,” Schmiesing said.

Schmiesing briefly went over the existing local economy, emphasizing there are jobs available in a number of Piqua’s long-standing industries and adding that the cost of living in the 45356 zip code is 8.2 percent lower than the national average.

Schmiesing said 80 percent of local job growth comes from existing businesses in the community, so he discussed the city’s efforts to help businesses stay in Piqua and expand. Schmiesing also went over talent retention and attraction efforts, as well as marketing strategies. He later added the financial tools the city has to offer to businesses looking to expand and/or improve their businesses, including micro-enterprise loans and the city’s revolving loan fund.

Schmiesing said the city’s “strong infrastructure,” including the Piqua Power System and the water and wastewater treatment plants, was a starter to “get us at the table” and into conversations with businesses looking for new locations.

He went over Piqua’s “competitive advantages,” including access to other markets, a diverse industry mix already in existence in the area, and a well-trained workforce, noting the efforts of Piqua City Schools, Upper Valley Career Center, and Edison State Community College. Schmiesing also noted the things the city does not have control over, including availability of land and the price points of those land for new businesses to locate in Piqua.

Schmiesing also went over a list of properties in and around the downtown that are expected to see improvements in changes, whether in the near future or in the next couple of years. Included in that list, Schmiesing announced that professional chef Tommy McCoy is looking to open a restaurant at 319 Wayne St., where the former Z’s Bar was located. The business is expected to be called McCoy’s Silver and Blue Kitchen. Schmiesing said it was not going to be a sports bar, but would be sports-themed and offer “made from scratch” food.

“(It’s) an exciting edition to our downtown,” Schmiesing said.

He also included a quote from Joseph Brown, president of Hartzell Propeller, who encouraged businesses to come to Piqua, unprompted by the city.

“I think it speaks volumes,” Schmiesing said.

In other news:

During the commission’s new business portion of the meeting, the commission approved the purchase of a 60-foot bucket truck for the Piqua Power System. The purchase will be from Utility Truck Equipment, Inc. at a cost not to exceed $260,000. The Power System plans to replace an older bucket truck from 2006 with over 67,000 miles and over 12,750 run hours. The commission then approved the purchase of accessory items for the new bucket truck for the Power System at a cost not to exceed $15,000.

Bill Jaqua of Piqua called for a “moratorium on spending” when the commission discussed these purchases.

The commission then approved paying W.W. Williams for emergency repairs that were made to one of the power system’s gas turbines on July 3. The cost is not to exceed $70,000. Krieger explained the turbines amounted to between $1.5-$2.5 million of yearly savings, including $2.3 million of cost-savings this year, for Power System customers. Krieger said customers receive an 8-10 percent decrease on their power bills due to these two engines.

During the announcement portion of the meeting, Larry Hamilton of Piqua discussed the memorial observance presentation that was held at the Randolph & McCulloch Freedom’s Struggle Complex in Piqua on Aug. 20, in remembrance of the 400th year anniversary of when African slaves were brought to Jamestown, Va. in 1619. Hamilton said the event was attended by 30 people and that he intends to have to presentation presented on the Indian Nation Station.

Hamilton then encouraged the community to participate in another opportunity to learn about African-American history at a viewing of “The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement” between 6:30-8:30 p.m. Sept. 18 at the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center, 301 W. Main St., Troy.

During public comment, a resident asked about water bills and if the city could bill customers in smaller increments than per 1,000 gallons. City Manager Gary Huff said that any amounts of gallons of water used that are not full 1,000 increments get rolled over to the next billing cycle. Using the example of a customer who may 1,999 gallons of water in one billing cycle, Huff said 999 gallons would be rolled over to the next billing cycle and the customer would only be paying for the first 1,000 gallons during that current billing cycle.

Commissioners John Martin and Chris Grissom were absent.

New restaurant announced for Wayne Street

By Sam Wildow

Miami Valley Today

Lawsuit settlement remains point of contention

During the announcement portion of the meeting, Larry Hamilton of Piqua also expressed concern about the city’s recent lawsuit settlement, particularly in regard to the allegations against City Manager Gary Huff that alleged he may have discriminated against a city employee who is African-American. The lawsuit settlement cleared Huff of those allegations.

“I found it to be disturbing, particularly of some allegations of a racial nature, and I have contacted City Manager Huff and City Attorney Patrizio to inquire the availability of the paper trail,” Hamilton said, adding that City Attorney Frank Patrizio supplied Hamilton with documents in regard to Hamilton’s request. “I appreciate the due diligence in the response in that regard.”

Bill Jaqua of Piqua later brought these allegations up again, asking for exposure on the issue.

“I think it was adequately explained at the last meeting when we voted on it,” Mayor Kazy Hinds said.

Patrizio said he already said “all that needs to be said” in regard to the settlement, but he reiterated that the settlement did not admit any wrongdoing on behalf of the city of Piqua or Huff.

“There are sometimes where you settle for various reasons, to limit risks, to limit costs. This thing could have cost more for the city to fight than what we paid out,” Patrizio said.

Jaqua responded, saying people wanted to know “if the city manager’s a racist or not.”

Commissioner Kris Lee came to Huff’s defense, saying, “He’s not a racist. If I thought he was, I would call him out.”

Hinds added the settlement was “not for anything wrong,” but was “the best financial option” before asking Jaqua to sit down. Jaqua objected to sitting down, saying he had not had his five minutes of speaking time for public comment.

Reach Sam Wildow at swildow@aimmediamidwest.com. ©2019 Miami Valley Today, all rights reserved.

Reach Sam Wildow at swildow@aimmediamidwest.com. ©2019 Miami Valley Today, all rights reserved.