Piqua Chamber hosts State of the City; Officials discuss departmental accomplishments

By Haylee Pence

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PIQUA – The Piqua Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the “State of the City” on Thursday, March 24. The event was also aired on Facebook Live and is still available on the City of Piqua – Government Page. It will also be posted on the city of Piqua’s YouTube page.

City Manager Paul Oberdorfer began the presentation by addressing that the city “had problems, but we are working hard to overcome those.” Oberdorfer spoke about the issues with the golf course, but he provided the steps they have taken to fix it, which include hiring a firm to inspect the golf course and issuing ideas to better improve the quality of the course and its amenities.

Following Oberdorfer, Mayor Thomas Fogt discussed the departments he liaisons for as a city commissioner, which includes the Human Resource Department, Information Technology (IT), and the Finance Department.

The Human Resource Department is under the direction of Catherine Bogan. Some of the 2021 accomplishments from this department include recruitment and retention, labor relations, training and development, benefits, and community outreach.

The IT Department is under the direction of Dean Burch. This department’s accomplishments for 2021 include completing almost 100% of the Help Desk tickets submitted, developing a new GIS position, migrating the Springbrook support from the Finance Department to the IT Department, and replacing out of date servers. As for 2022, the IT Department would like to accomplish several goals which include Microsoft 365 migration and updating policy and procedures.

The Finance Department is under the direction of Ben Goodin. This department’s accomplishments for 2021 include the preparation of the 2022 budget, managing 200-plus payroll employees, and processing approximately 10,645 tax returns.

Vice Mayor Cindy Pearson presented the next department, the Environmental & Recreation Services Department. The department is under the direction of Amy Welker. The department encompasses the Sanitation Department and the Parks Department.

Some of the 2021 accomplishments for the Parks Department include the creation of the parks maintenance standards, which is upheld by the creation of the Parks Annual Work Plan, the inspection and improvements to the Echo Hills Golf Course, and the upcoming reconstruction in Lock 9 Park.

The Sanitation Department’s accomplishments in 2021 include the purchase of three new automated trash trucks, which began the automation project throughout the city. Along with this project, the department started the Fall Prevention Program for residents over the age of 65 or with disabilities to help with moving trash bins to the appropriate place.

Commissioner Kris Lee discussed the Piqua Police Department and the Piqua Fire Department.

The Police Department is under the direction of Police Chief Rick Byron. The department is capable of employing 35 officers, but is still short five officers despite being able to hire four officers in 2021. Also in 2021, the department received 19,721 service calls. The department employees amassed over 3,000 hours in various training hours. Another accomplishment was the replacement of three police vehicles in 2021. In 2022, the department’s goals include hiring more officers and expanding the body camera program.

The Fire Department is under the direction of Fire Chief Brent Pohlschneider. The department is in need of a ladder truck, but has not secured one yet for unnamed reasons. The department is able to employee 32 firefighters/paramedics, which are all currently filled. The department received 4,398 service calls. They amassed over 4,000 hours in various training hours. Some of their accomplishments include earning multiple grants for equipment and assessments, replacing two cardiac monitor units, and community outreach programs.

Then, Commissioner Chris Grissom discussed the Utilities Department and the Power Department.

The Utilities Department is under the direction of Kevin Krejny and consists of drinking water, waste water, and storm water. The drinking water is run through an extensive charcoal-based filtration system, according to Grissom. The Utilities Department focused on efficiency for the 2021 year ,which brought about multiple avenues of cost savings.

The Power Department is under the direction of Ed Krieger. The Power Department has worked for the past decade on reducing the number of power outages seen throughout the city. The power outages have seen a downward trend since then, but will likely start to level off, according to Grissom.

The city’s meter readers are in the process of being automatic which will help provide a better reading on the energy utilized in each individual home. The readers will send the information to the department to be reflected on the resident’s bill. Residents will soon be able to monitor their energy usage via an app on their phone which will show the current energy usage at that home.

Finally, Commissioner Kazy Hinds discussed the Development Department, the Public Works Department, and the Engineering Department.

The Development Department is under the direction of Chris Schmiesing. In 2021, the department has been working on an updated Code Piqua Development Code, a Transportation Plan, and addressing the Downtown Parking Strategy among other things. The Community and Economic Development portion of the Development Department has helped demolish 18 structures, establish the DORA, create the Wood Street Lofts, and bring two breweries to the area.

The Public Works Department is under the direction of Brian Brookhart. In 2021, the department maintained over 150 miles of streets and 28 miles of alleys by plowing, salting, and sweeping. So far in 2022, the snow and ice events have cost the city $109,546.56 between salt purchases and wages for labor.

The Engineering Department is under the direction of Amy Havenar. In 2021, this department completed several projects which include the 2021 Bridge Inspections, East Ash Street Pavement Repairs, the Park Avenue Sanitary Sewer Replacement Project, and others. Their goals for 2022 include the U.S. 36 Resurfacing Project, the MetroNet construction, Safe Routes to School Program, and the Great Miami River Recreational Trail Bridge Project.

Fogt thanked the city employees for all their hard work in 2021 and the work they are going to accomplish in 2022.