Piqua commission forms citizen-run committee


By Eamon Baird

[email protected]

PIQUA — A resolution to form a citizen-run committee on the controversial lithium-ion burning in the city of Piqua was adopted during the Piqua City Commission meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 6.

According to a resolution, this committee will consist of five members who will create a report detailing the events from the Energy Safety Response Group’s (ESRG) lithium-ion burning at the Fire Training Facility between 2017 and 2023.

Section two of the resolution states that each committee member must be residents of Piqua and will be appointed or removed by the City Commission. Additionally, no citizen who is or was an employee of the city during the designated time frame shall be eligible for appointment.

“The reason that we are putting guardrails on the committee is because the point of this committee is to be independent,” Ward Five Commissioner Frank DeBrosse said.

Ward Two Commissioner Paul Simmons requested an amendment to remove the section about former city employees not being allowed to serve on this committee and allow residents with knowledge of the battery burns to serve on the committee.

“I still think it’s doing a disservice to the commission, to the city of Piqua, and to the person who’s actually been spoken to about this,” Simmons said.

“Without some sort of guideline on restricting the applicant pool, we could see applications from current city employees or even more recent city employees who were perhaps involved in it,” Ward Four Commissioner Tom Hohman responded. “I don’t know that we would have good grounds for discriminating against them unless there’s broad guidance that no one who worked in the city in that time frame was a part of it.”

“Let me be clear: the language in this as far as current or former city employees has nothing to do with individuals. If we are setting up this committee to be truly independent, then allowing someone to serve on the committee, whether it was currently or in the past, I think that delegitimizes the independent nature of what we’re trying to accomplish,” DeBrosse said.

Mayor Kris Lee voted with Simmons to amend the resolution, but Ward One Commissioner Vetter, DeBrosse and Hohman against the proposed amendment failed 3-2.

Debbie Stein said Lee, DeBrosse and Simmons contacted her to serve on the committee, but because she is a former city employee, she is not eligible to serve on the committee.

“I think what you guys are doing is trying to lock out anybody with any information,” Stein said. “It’s making it as if you guys don’t have faith or belief that if you select someone that someone else doesn’t want that, it’s going to turn against them.”

The commissioners voted 4-1 to pass the resolution, with Simmons voting no.

More information and applications to serve on this committee can be accessed on the city of Piqua website at piquaoh.org/216/Boards-Committees.

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