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Gigstad hired as chamber director

Lisa Gigstad

Community activist and former Piedmont Board of Education President Lisa Gigstad has been hired as the new executive director of the Piedmont Chamber of Commerce.

She will replace Paisley Hopkins, who is leaving to take over as the chief staff officer of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce.

Gigstad will step down from her position as a chamber board member and as First Vice President of the Chamber. She has also served as the Chamber’s Legislative Breakfast Coordinator since 2009.

She served 10 years on the Piedmont school board and was president of the board from 2002 to 2010. For five years, Gigstad also was on the board of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.

A co-founder of the Piedmont Library and Cultural Events Society (PLACES), she served on the PLACES board from 1998 through 2004, and is a graduate of the Piedmont Leadership Academy, Leadership Canadian County and the Oklahoma Community Institute Leadership Academy.

Gigstad was co-director of Planning Piedmont’s Progress (P3) and served a two-year stint on the Piedmont Economic Authority. Additionally, she was active in PTO and served as the Piedmont Elementary PTO Treasurer from 1997 to 2002, and as the Piedmont Middle School PTO Treasurer from 1999 to 2001. She was also a Junior Achievement instructor at Piedmont Middle School from 2005 to 2010.

She is active in her church where she has held a number of positions and is an Oklahoma Czech folk dancer and a singer with the Canterbury Choral Society.

The new chamber director holds an MBA from the University of Chicago with concentrations in finance and marketing, and an MA and BA from the University of Kansas.

Gigstad said she would work hard to support the board and help the chamber achieve its goals. She also said she feels her knowledge of the community and experience as a chamber board member will be useful in helping the chamber implement new programs and “think outside the box to address the difficult problems of a community with a rapidly expanding population but a small business core.”

“We are very pleased to have a person with Lisa’s knowledge, experience and enthusiasm to take over this important chamber position,” said chamber president Darren Owens. “We are very confident she can help the Piedmont chamber go to the next level and be of even more service to our members and the community,” he added.

Owens said he is trying to arrange so that Gigstad and Hopkins can work together at the chamber this week before Hopkins’ final day on Friday.

Artist gallery opening in Colony Pointe center

A mural is painted above the entrance to the new Red Dirt Artist and Gallery in the Colony Pointe shopping center off Northwest Expwy.

The Colony Pointe shopping center is gaining a new tenant with the opening of the Red dirt Artists and Gallery.

Bob Palmer, a spokesperson for the gallery, said the space is open at limited hours but hopes to be officially open next month. The gallery will house eight art students from the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond who will have a work station and a space to hang art. The public will be invited to watch artists work and check out their work free of charge.

The gallery also plans to offer art classes for adult and children beginning in June, Palmer said.

The gallery is located at 113 Colony Pointe Blvd., just off Northwest Expressway.

Barresi to speak at chamber banquet

The Piedmont Chamber of Commerce has announced new State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Janet Barresi, will be the guest speaker during the chamber’s annual banquet on Jan. 22.

The banquet will take place at 7 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Piedmont.  Tickets can be purchased for $25 in advance at the chamber office, or for $30 at the door.  The chamber office is open Mon.-Thur. from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Reserved corporate tables can be purchased for $200.

Entertainment will be provided by the Piedmont Percussion Project.

For more information contact Paisley Hokins at (405) 373-2234 of e-mail at piedmontokchamber@gmail.com

Automotive shop opens in Piedmont

MPH Automotive opened for business on Jan. 3. The automotive service center in Piedmont has five employees.

After nearly three years of sitting vacant, the former home of Triple S Quick Lube is open once again offering not only oil changes but expanded auto maintenance services as a new owner has purchased the building.

On Monday Mike Hlebowicz opened MPH Automotive, located at 141 Edmond Rd.  Hlebowicz had previously run an automotive shop in Oklahoma City, but high rents sent him looking for a new location and Piedmont is where he eventually decided to open his new shop.

“I started looking (for a location) and I have a bunch of friends out here who kept saying check this place out,” Hlebowicz said.  “There is less competition out here and I like the area.  We have actually been looking for a house (in Piedmont) for a while.”

Hlebowicz said he has been working on cars since he was 15 when he worked on his drag racing friend’s cars.  Since then he has been a practicing mechanic and is looking forward to being in Piedmont.

“I purchased (this building) in December and took about a month to clean it,” Hlebowicz said.  “We still have a few little bugs to work out, but so far it’s been going pretty good.”

Customers of the former oil change business located at MPH’s location will still find lube service, but Hlebowicz said he also wanted to offer other maintenance services.

“There is not anything we don’t do,” Hlebowicz said.  “Tire alignments, tune-ups, oil change, we can do anything.  It was a quick lube place and it’s still set up that way, but I also wanted to do maintenance.

Currently MPH Automotive is open Monday through Friday with plans to open on Saturdays in the future.  Including Hlebowicz, the automotive shop has five employees.

City says hearing will have little impact on grocery store

A new Williams Food grocery store is currently under construction in Piedmont with an expected opening date of early March.

If a judge sides with 10 Piedmont citizens who have filed a law suit against the City of Piedmont it will not disrupt plans for a new Williams Foods grocery store, and if the group loses, they could have to repay the city its legal fees, mayor Mike Fina said.

A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 21 where Canadian County Judge Gary Miller will hear the citizen group’s claim that the city has unlawfully agreed to help Williams Food, Inc. build a new grocery store in Piedmont.  Fina said there is no case because the city has not yet decided on the way it will contribute $1.9 million towards construction costs and that a ruling against the city will mean very little.

“Nothing is going to change the plans to open this grocery store,” Fina said.  “I’m not worried about the lawsuit. If there was any concern whatsoever we wouldn’t move forward on the project.”

Because no final agreement on how to pay Williams has been made, Fina said there is little substance to the case.  But if the judge sides with the city, Fina said the city will go after the group of citizens in order to recoup its legal fees.

“This hasn’t been fair to our city’s tax payers to foot the (legal) bill,” Fina said.  “We have to go after that money.  But if for some reason we don’t prevail, there is nothing for them to recoup because there has been no money spent by the city on this project yet.”

City attorney David Davis did not return a request for comment, but Fina said he expects the legal fees to “be in the thousands of dollars.”

According to Phil Boevers, one of the citizens listed on the suit, and his attorney Andy Bass, the plaintiffs are confident they will win their case, but if not, they are planning to refile against what they feel are several other wrongdoings by the city.

Grocery store fight leads to ground breaking

<strong>Ben Felder</strong>
<em>News Editor</em>

Nobody said the grocery business was suppose to be easy but Jeff Williams admits that the journey to breaking ground on a new grocery store in Piedmont was one of the toughest challenges of his career.

Williams, who owns Williams Food grocery stores, would have preferred to have a new store on Piedmont Road well underway, but fights at city hall, lawsuits and attack ads have made the process feel more like a political campaign rather than an attempt to sell groceries.

“Its been a big time struggle, but what a bunch of positives we have here,” Williams said following a ground breaking ceremony last week.  “Whatever happened in the past its just one of those things that you have to deal with.  We wanted to stay out of the mud and let the lawyers handle all that.”

Construction is now underway with a projected opening of March 2011.  Williams said the store will be a state-of-the-art facility that utilizes energy efficient methods to save on costs.

Despite the challenges to begin construction, Williams said it was worth the fight to come to Piedmont.

“Piedmont reminds me so much of Tuttle where I grew up,” Williams said.  “We have always looked at Piedmont as a place that wants a grocery store and needs a grocery store.  That makes it worth fighting for.”

While a new store in Piedmont may have been the toughest business challenge of Williams’ career, Piedmont mayor Mike Fina agrees that it has been one of the toughest challenges of his political career.

“I just want to put all of this behind us and open this store,” Fina said.  “Its easy to get caught up in the problems but there are so many good people that made this possible.”

Fina said its been a long road to break ground on a new grocery store in Piedmont but it was an important step for the growth of the town.

“A grocery store is the No. 1 thing people here want,” Fina said.  “For our grand vision of growing business here, this grocery store will spur future development.  It was necessary in that way.”

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