#HomeGrownStories – Kazy Hinds
Piqua Mayor, Kazy Hinds, originally from West Palm Beach, Florida, is in her second year as mayor. During her time as Mayor, Kazy has promoted a positive image of Piqua while encouraging the community to be more active. Serving her community comes naturally to Kazy, an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church. She has lived in many different places over the years but is happy to call Piqua home since 2008.
How she ended up moving to Miami County:
I’m from West Palm Beach, Florida. My husband, Joe, and I are ordained ministers in the Presbyterian Church. My husband connected with a church in Sidney and I ended up connecting with a church in Piqua. We moved here in the fall of 2008. I served at the church in Piqua for almost 8 years. My first Sunday was the weekend that the Fort Piqua Plaza opened. It was neat. I met some of the young adults at the church and we came down to the grand opening of the Fort Piqua Plaza.
Piqua is such a charming town. It has a lot of great history. It’s been a great place to raise a family. Our son has thrived in the Piqua City Schools and he has had phenomenal teachers. We love Piqua so much. We have lived in a variety of different places. I was born and raised in Florida, I went to school in South Carolina and also lived in North Carolina. I went back to school for seminary in Georgia and moved back to South Carolina to serve a church. Then we ended up on Long Island in New York and later Syracuse before moving here. It’s been an interesting journey. Because we’ve lived in so many different places, we come into town with different eyes. Our perspective is different from the people who grew up here. When we came here we were so impressed. We’re close to Dayton if we want to go and do something at the Schuster Center or something like that. We have a wonderful bike path (thirteen miles!) and it connects to the longest paved path system in the country! We have the Great Miami River for water activities. Everything that I love to do I can go right outside my front door and do it. I don’t have to travel miles and miles to do it.
On her involvement in local government and engaging with the community:
I’ve always believed that it’s important to engage with your community in some way and to give back. I’ve been involved in mission work, food pantries and other things that help our citizens. That has always been a part of my life and it’s something that I’ve always done.
The more I became engaged with the Piqua community, the more excited I became for where we could go and what we could do. I was on the facility planning committee and worked on the levy for the new schools. It was exciting to see the new schools come to fruition a few years later. I chaired a safety service levy a few years after that. I enjoyed working with the police and fire departments, city government, and other citizens. We worked together to get that levy passed and were successful. One thing kept leading to another and another. If someone would’ve told me when I moved here that this is what I would be doing it — I would have said: “you’re crazy.”
I made my petition for Mayor in the summer 2015 and was elected in November 2015. I started on January 1, 2016, and am in my second year. I am the 5th Ward Commissioner. I serve as commissioner for four years. The mayoral term is two years. At our commission meeting in January, we will vote amongst ourselves on who will be mayor for the next two years. At this point, I would love to continue to do it if my fellow commissioners feel that is appropriate.
When I think about what I enjoy about being mayor, I think about what I’ve done this week. I spent yesterday working with third-graders from Washington Primary. This is an annual field trip. The students come to the city building and we do a mock commission meeting with them. I talk a little bit about city government and we visit the police and fire departments. It’s so exciting to see these children get a taste of our government and how they can become involved. They learn that their voices count. We want to inspire young people so they know they could be a police officer, city commissioner, or mayor. They are some of our very most important citizens because they’re the future. We need them to help us see our city through their eyes.
The other thing that I love is getting out into our community. I started these Walks with the Mayor last year. I take people from different departments and we walk with citizens through the ward. It’s a walking meeting where we have conversations about their needs and desires for that part of our town. It’s hard for people to come to the city building sometimes. We’re willing to go out and talk to the community in the community. Getting ourselves into the different wards, walking and talking, we get to know each other. We engage with each other and get to see instead of hearing the stories. I’m a big proponent of getting out and getting active. We’re not standing still – we’re walking, getting a little bit of exercise and enjoying our community. Getting people outside and active is important. A healthy community is a happy community. The more active you are the better you feel. Something else I’d love to do is Yoga with the Mayor. I’m taking a yoga teacher training class with Amanda Brown at Balanced Yoga Studio. I’ve toyed with this idea and hope that this will happen sometime at the end of the summer. We’ll walk with the mayor and do yoga!
I’ve also been very passionate about helping our community see the positive aspects of who we are. It’s easy to look at the negative side of things. I’ve seen and heard a lot of negativity about our community, though it has gotten a lot better recently.
What she loves most about Miami County:
I love the beautiful area that we live in. I love that I can get out and hike the Buckeye Trail. I can walk, run or ride my bike on the bike path. I can get in the river and kayak. I’ve lived in places where I have to drive thirty to forty-five minutes to be able to do some of those things.
I love that there are so many outdoor opportunities right outside our door. Our Miami County Park system is phenomenal! My son has already experienced so much of the natural world through field trips to the parks. The Park District works with the schools to take the kids to Charleston Falls where they get into the water. They find salamanders and other animals and insects. It gets the kids outdoors and away from their electronic devices. It reminds them of the beautiful wider world that we live in.
How Miami County is different from other places she has lived:
The landscape here is different. This is the first state that I have ever lived in that does not touch the ocean. I’ve lived in Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, and New York. At least one side of each state touched the ocean. I am a water person. I love the water. Miami County and Ohio are a little different since we don’t have any salt water nearby.
I’ve also never lived in such an agricultural area before. It’s very flat. The wind here is something I’ve never experienced before! We live on the west side of town so when the wind starts to come in with storms — it can be a pretty strong wind. It’s like we’re living on the prairie!
There’s beauty in every part of the country. You have to open your eyes and look at it. I love looking at the farm fields when I drive in Miami County. The grains and grasses change color throughout the year. Right now there are these beautiful golden yellow colors. If you keep your eyes open you can find beauty wherever you are.
Her recommendations for out-of-town visitors:
I definitely recommend walking on the bike path or going down Main Street. We celebrate Fort Piqua Plaza because of its history and what it has become. Whenever I have visitors in town I take them to the library — it’s a great place to learn more about Piqua. It’s also a beautiful building. Johnston Farm is also a wonderful place to go and learn about the history of our community. It would be a shame if somebody would miss that — it’s a beautiful area and the Buckeye Trail is right out there too. Where else can you go on a canal boat ride to get a little taste of the history of who we are and where we come from?
Visitors should check out Mainstreet Piqua and our community calendar. There are phenomenal things happening through Mainstreet Piqua and the Piqua Arts Council. Whether it’s Rock Piqua, Taste of the Arts or the Chocolate Walk. It’s hard to find a weekend without something happening. The Piqua Arts Council and Mainstreet Piqua do an amazing job. You cannot be bored in our community! If you’re bored, you’re not looking at the calendar. [laughs]
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