Eye on the City – September 2016

A sense of place has always been important to people, and we do not have to look far to see this.  Religious traditions have intertwined people, place, and the divine time and time again.  Place is crucial in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) for defining society, divinity, and the relationship between the two.  We see this continuing even today as the importance of the Holy Land continues to exist at the heart of millions of Christians, who see the Bible as authoritative in their lives. 

Yes, God, people and place are inseparably intertwined in the Hebrew scriptures.  In the Hebrew Bible, the word maqom, is most often translated as “place” carrying with it a sense of purpose rather than a sense of emptiness.  It is a location where something belongs – and many times in the Bible this is a place of worship. 

The importance of place grows out of conversations between our experiences and the physical surroundings.  Think about the historical places you have visited.  In these historical places, you take time to hear the stories and get a sense of how the physical surroundings are part of the stories.  I think about a recent trip to Washington D.C and the many historical places we visited.  In those places we heard story after story that were shared about the places we visited.  Places that are important in the birth of our country. Places that hold history which is important for us never to forget!   

Yes, people love places.  It is true, and there is a love that bubbles up deep within our souls when we think about places like home…where we come from…where we live…where we work and play.  Place is important to us as individuals and it is also important to us as we vision the future of our city.  

The Project for Public Spaces (PPS), which was founded in 1975 is a nonprofit planning, design and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities.  PPS encourages cities, like ours, to build our communities around places.  PPS’s pioneering Placemaking approach helps citizens transform their public spaces into vital places that highlight local assets, spur rejuvenation and serve common needs. It is a hands-on approach that inspires people to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of the community. When we do this the connection between people and places that they share is strengthened, and this is exactly what Piqua is doing as we dream and vision for our future!  


We began this kind of dreaming and visioning many years ago with the Fort Piqua Plaza.  Yes, what was once a dream is now a reality and Fort Piqua Plaza now serves as a focal point for our city.  We, as citizens of Piqua, have a strong sense of connection to Fort Piqua Plaza as a historic landmark in our city and building our city around places, such as this, is what is leading us and it is what others outside of our city are noticing.  Yes, and we are getting noticed because of what we are  doing and how we are dreaming and visioning for our future!  

This past Tuesday the City Commission made a historic decision for the future of our city. We passed a resolution that allows us to employ Gamble and Associates Architecture + Urban Planning to begin the construction documents for the Riverfront Development. David Gamble, the consultant that we have been working with on this project, will be contracted to perform professional design services for our downtown public park space.  This decision shows the developers that have shown interest in our dreams and visions that we are serious and the city is bought into the dreams and visions we have for our future. slide50

By stepping forth boldly in this way, we will begin the transformation of this public space into something that all citizens will also have a strong sense of connection to as this place will carry with it a sense of purpose and not emptiness. With the history of this place and the canal as its focus the renderings of what could be that line the halls of the Piqua City Building speak of history, speak of purpose, speak of gatherings both formal and informal, and with that they speak of the beauty of who we are as a city.  A city where a river runs through it and our Riverfront Development will be a place where we can come and experience all the river has to offer both visually and physically as well.  The Great Miami River is one of our greatest assets!

People love places.  Yes, place is very important to us as individuals and it is also very important to us as we vision the future of our city.  My friends, our future is bright and our future is closer than we think. THIS. Is Piqua! And THIS is EXCITING!             

Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Together – Piqua & Troy Fight for a Cure!


Mayor Beamish-Troy, OH & Mayor Hinds-Piqua, OH – Walk to End Alzheimer’s 2016

As many of you know this past Spring, I issued a challenge to my friend Mayor Beamish in Troy.  The challenge was to see who could have the most walkers in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.  The walk was held this past weekend and what a great turnout we had!  Local organizations, banks, assisted living facilities, and family and friends of those affected by the disease throughout the Miami County came out to “Walk for a Cure.”

In speaking with Katie Mauch, Director of Communications and Walk Coordinator with the Alzheimer’s Association Miami Valley Chapter so far &58,483.00 has been raised and with the addition of the outstanding scholarship money pledged once all is collected $62,048.00 will have been raised!  That is more than $7000.00 over the goal set for the walk!  Way to go Miami County!

The City of Piqua had a great turn out and thanks to Diana Tamplin, the Walk Coordinator for the City over $500.00 was raised!  Thank YOU – City of Piqua!



You know together we are SO much stronger!  Yes there is a healthy Piqua-Troy rivalry that is talked about time and time again, but I want to point out the evidence of what we can do together as the Miami County region!  Yes, what benefits one of us benefits ALL!

Final numbers show that there were 181 walkers this past Saturday.  Troy had 149 & Piqua had 66.  So I congratulate my friend Mayor Beamish on a great Troy turn out, but Piqua had a great showing as well…with the other Miami County communities way behind both Piqua & Troy in the number of their walkers.  Yes, together we are stronger, and I hope that we can find more opportunities to come together and work to better the place that we call home…Piqua/Troy = Miami County!


The Great Miami River is part of a National Water Trail & Piqua is Celebrating!


National WaterThe City of Piqua is pleased to invite community members and officials from throughout the region to join in recognizing the recent designation of the Great Miami Watershed Water Trail as a National Water Trail System. The water trail includes the Great Miami, Stillwater and Mad rivers and is the only national water trail in Ohio.

The National Water Trails System is a distinctive national network of exemplary water trails that has been established to protect and restore America’s rivers and waterways and increase access to outdoor recreation. “Our world-class network of national trails provides easily accessible places to enjoy exercise and connect with nature in both urban and rural areas while also boosting tourism and supporting economic opportunities in local communities across the country,” says U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.

In coordination with the Miami Conservancy District and Ohio’s Great Corridor officials, the City of Piqua will be hosting a proclamation ceremony to acknowledge and celebrate the significance of the water trail designation. The ceremony will be held at Lock Nine Park in Piqua, Ohio on Saturday, August 6, 2016 at 5:30 p.m. Representatives from state and federal agencies will be in attendance to join local officials in recognizing the water trail designation.

The proclamation ceremony will take place in conjunction with an annual river festival that epitomizes the growing interest in our communities to reconnect with the Great Miami Riverway. There will be canoe races and paddle play activities on the Great Miami River from midafternoon until early evening, with a break in the action during the time the ceremony takes place, followed by live music, food and beer tasting, and the display of river fire rings during the evening hours.

For more information about the river festival please visit Down the River- Down a Beer


National Night Out August 2, 2016

“National Night Out” is an annual community-building campaign that promote police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer, better places to live.  Last year we had around 5 neighborhood events throughout the community, but this year we had 12!  It was wonderful to see folks come out and enjoy the beautiful evening and spend time with their neighbors.  I was able to go to a few neighborhood gatherings as I traveled around before our Commission meeting with Deputy Chief Marty Grove in Piqua Police Departments Tactical Response Vehicle.  



Eye on the City – July 2016


As a city one of our greatest assets is our citizens, because it takes great citizens to make a great community.  Recently one of our local citizens along with his staff started a movement to support our police officers here in Piqua following all of the violence that has happened recently towards those in law enforcement in our country.  It is true that what happened in Dallas and in many other places here in our country still has us all reeling!  

Thanks to Jim Oda, the Director of our Public Library, and his dedicated staff; a campaign to support our police department began.  Directly after the horrific tragedy in Dallas, Blue Ribbons were placed on the large columns directly outside the library.  Shortly after that I began promoting through my blog “Eye on the City”, Facebook, & Twitter the “Sea of Blue” campaign, because I believe that our Piqua Police Department needs to hear from ALL citizens that we support them and give thanks for ALL they do to keep us safe.  It is true that our police officers put themselves in harms way daily for us, the citizens of Piqua.

In the “Sea of Blue” campaign, I am asking ALL citizens to show their support of our Police Force by creating a “Sea of Blue” throughout our community. I am encouraging folks to hang blue ribbons on a tree, a post, a light fixture, your car, any where they can be seen.  By doing this our police officers will know they are appreciated and supported by the citizens they serve and protect. 

It is wonderful for me to see blue ribbons pop up throughout our community in front of homes, businesses, on trees in the boulevards, on lamp posts, and in many other places.  Yes, a “Sea of Blue” is happening and I thank the citizens of our community for showing the love and support they have for our police officers.

This past Friday I did a “ride along” with our police department to show my support as mayor, but also to get a bird eyes view into their job.  I rode with 2 of our officers – Lieutenant Marcos Rodriquez and Officer Todd Voskuhl.  As we travelled throughout our city, we chatted and I got a bit of a taste as to what their daily job entails.


Lieutenant Rodriquez & Officer May

The first thing that popped out to me was how they differ from our fire department. Now I knew some of this after chairing the Safety Service Levy Campaign a few years ago.  At that time I worked closely with both departments and other citizens working hard to get that Levy passed and I heard time and time again about how firefighters are perceived and how police officers are perceived.  Yes, both jobs are very different. 

When you see our fire department they are coming to help and many of us see them as heroes because they “save the day” as they come to help fight a fire or attend someone who needs medical attention and could be in harms way.  They bring in the “jaws of life” and get people out of cars. After this happens we all want to hug them and shower them with praise and thanks.

Well, think about this from a police officers perspective.  Their job is to “serve and protect” and many times this means giving tickets for speeding, for failing to stop at a stop sign, or for driving with a suspended license.  As I was “riding along” this past Friday, we did pull over someone who was driving a bit questionably as they stopped in the road where there was not a stop sign.  It turns out that they were driving without a license and were ticketed for that.  I can tell you that as the passenger got out and they changed places so the passenger could drive that neither one of them gave Lieutenant Rodriquez a hug or high five.  He was doing his job, but I would believe he was not a welcome sight to the one that received the ticket. 

As I sat in the car, watching this traffic stop unfold and at a few other times on my “ride along” when officers were called to houses for disturbances and complainants, I have to admit that my blood began to race a bit as they walked into situation after situation of the unknown.  And the truth is that they do this each and every day!  What dedication and love of the job they have to keep doing this time after time again.

I finished up my “ride along” with Officer Todd Voskuhl, who was born and raised here in Piqua.  He told me stories of growing up in Candlewood with his brother, who is also in law enforcement.  In the stores that Todd shared with me of his childhood and growing up, I was reminded that behind these uniforms they wear lies someone just like you and me.  They have the same dreams and fears as we do, and still they go to work day after day and put on the uniform unknowing what will be next.  


Officer Voskuhl & some of his family

We talked about his wife and family, Todd has 3 young children, and how they have dealt with the tragedy in Dallas.  I thought about my own son and how he would react knowing that one of his parents was in a job where people were shooting at them as they tried to do what they were hired to do.  How do you make sense of that as an adult, but as a child I can only imagine it is even scarier! 

Todd said they have open conversations about what happened in Dallas and together they watched the TV coverage of it and talked about what happened and the feelings that his children had because of it.  Even so, I still wonder why these innocent children have to even think about this at their young age.  

You know, there was a time that law enforcement was a career that was respected and one that was held in high honor.  My Uncle trained law enforcement officers at the local Junior College in the community I grew up in, and I can remember him talking proudly about his students and where they ended up after graduation. As a child, I found myself looking at police officers and wondering if my Uncle Larry might have once been their teacher.  Yes, there was a time when we honored authority and held the job of police officer in very high esteem.  

I pray that we can get there once again, Piqua…not only here but throughout our country!  Our Police Officers are here to “serve and protect” and we need to be behind them with “love and support.”  May the “Sea of Blue” continue to roll through our community showing our love and support to those who do SO much to keep us safe here in our community!