Commissioners host Courthouse Plaza dedication

By Aimee Hancock

Miami Valley Today

TROY — The Miami County Board of Commissioners hosted a dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting event Thursday to commemorate the completion of the Courthouse Plaza renovation.

The event was sponsored by Kettering Health Network’s Troy Hospital, Premier Health’s Upper Valley Medical Center, The Robinson Fund, and The Troy Foundation. Lunch was provided by the Miami County Cattleman’s Association.

The program kicked off with the National Anthem, performed by Sheryl Queen. All three commissioners then addressed attendees.

President Jack Evans recognized the contractors of the project, including Garmann Miller and Outdoor Enterprise. Evans also recognized elected officials in attendance, including Ben Thayer, a representative from Rep. Warren Davidson’s office; Ohio Secretary of State regional liaison Kenneth Henning; Auditor of State representative Joe Brannon; and Rep. Steve Huffman, who gave an accommodation.

Commissioner Greg Simmons gave a project overview. Simmons began by detailing the addition of tunnels in 1885, which were constructed from the power plant over to the area of the courthouse.

According to Simmons, the courthouse plaza eventually needed to be reconstructed due to problems caused by the tunnels, which had structural issues due to water.

This reconstruction was completed in 1973, Simmons said.

“With time, the pavers were impacted by freeze, fall effects and seasonal changes and it caused a lot of uneven areas,” he said. “The bricks began to rise and people began to fall, so we found that it was getting to be quite a problem.”

In addition, the two fountains developed water leaks and erosion, adding to an uneven surface.

“(The new plaza) is very beautiful and we’re very proud of what’s been done, but this wasn’t done just to be beautiful,” Simmons said. “It also had a practical reason and that’s why we had to do this.”

Commissioner Ted Mercer briefly highlighted the plaza renovation features.

“Pedestrian safety was the highest priority,” he said. “We now have no more trip hazards in the form of 2- to 3-inch steps and no more loose bricks and broken concrete.”

Mercer noted that lighting was implemented throughout the plaza to enhance safety as well as aesthetic, with new lights also added to shine on the courthouse itself.

“The architecture of the courthouse was to be honored while still being cohesive to the Safety Building,” Mercer continued. “This was accomplished by using the courthouse floor design for the outdoor paving pattern.”

The original 1850 jail exterior wall stones were restored and relocated to the new water feature in front of the courthouse, and additional jail stones are now being used as benches and accents throughout the plaza.

Other additions include bronze plaques to describe the historic statues on the dome and roof of the courthouse, along with way-finding signage.

The historic wall at the perimeter of the sidewalk edge was salvaged as much as possible, Mercer said, with some being removed to allow for ADA accessibility.

As part of the ribbon cutting ceremony, Pilot Sean Saddler, director of flight operations at Hartzell Propeller Inc., and Miami County Sheriff’s Office Captain Dave Norman honored attendees with a flyover featuring a WACO Classic aircraft, courtesy of WACO Field and Aviation Learning Center. Following this, a re-dedication ceremony was held for the Miami County Law Enforcement Memorial, which was moved to a new location in the plaza.

Commissioner Simmons, who also serves as the current chaplain of the Miami County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 58, led a prayer and reading of the poem, “In the Line of Duty,” by George Hahn.

The Miami County FOP Lodge 58 Honor Guard performed during the ceremony and held a gun salute.

Sgt. Jeff Waite of the Troy Police Department, and president of the Miami County FOP Lodge 58, spoke briefly.

“Today we recognize and honor our seven fallen officers, who gave their lives in the line of duty in Miami County, along with all fallen law enforcement officers, who have given their lives to protect their communities,” Waite said.

These seven fallen officers include Marshal Harvey Hake, Covington Police Department, 1917; George Eikmeyer Patrolman George Eickmeyer, Tipp City Police Department, 1945; Lt. Noah Studebaker, Piqua Police Department, 1957; Patrolman Jan Mulder II, Piqua Police Department, 1970; Sgt.William R. Morris, Miami County Sheriff’s Office, 1972; Det. Robert Taylor, Piqua Police Department, 1982; and Sgt. Robert L. Elliott, Miami County Sheriff’s Office, 1987.