PIQUA — Gov. John Kasich recently appointed two new trustees to Edison State Community College’s Board of Trustees. Gary J. Bensman, of Minster, and James C. Oda, of Piqua, were sworn in during the April 26 board meeting at the Piqua Campus.
Representing Shelby County is Gary J. Bensman. Bensman is a lifelong resident of Shelby County who brings a diverse background in agriculture, manufacturing, sales, management, and local and county government to the Edison State Board of Trustees.
Bensman spent more than 20 years of his career at Midmark and as the co-owner/operator of Emmy’s Bridal with his wife of over 50 years, Emily. His public career consisted of eight years on the Fort Loramie Village Council and 12 years as the Mayor of Fort Loramie.
With teamwork from the Village Council, Bensman led the development of the Village’s industrial park, which is now home to over twelve well-established businesses. After his term as mayor he served as the Director of the Shelby County Regional Planning Commission for over ten years prior to retiring.
“When the opportunity to serve on the board was proposed, it did not take me long to decide to serve, as I was aware of the educational value seen by the wide range of students that attend Edison State,” said Bensman.
Representing Miami County is James C. Oda. A graduate of Edison State Community College, Oda went on to receive undergraduate and graduate degrees in history from Wright State University. Oda currently serves as the director of the Piqua Public Library and the Municipal Historian for the City of Piqua.
Oda’s current community activities include serving as chairman of the Piqua Downtown Design Review Board, chairman of the Piqua Planning Commission, chairman of the Miami County Planning Commission, chairman of the Piqua Tourism Council and service on the boards of the Piqua Municipal Records Commission, Piqua Area Chamber of Commerce, Miami County Foundation and the Piqua Foundation and choir director of the St. John’s Lutheran Church choir.
Oda has spent over ten years in archaeological field studies and excavations in New Mexico. He is also the author of dozens of books and articles on local and state history, including the award-winning Encyclopedia of Piqua.
“I am looking forward to working with the Edison State Board of Trustees to promote quality education in the Upper Miami Valley,” said Oda. “Edison State is one the premier higher educational facilities in the region that continually promotes the welfare of our students, families, and communities. It is an honor to be working with this unique and forward thinking institution.”
The Edison State Community College Board of Trustees is comprised of three representatives from each county in its primary service area — Darke, Miami, and Shelby.
Bensman and Oda will replace the late Rob Joslin and Tony Wendeln respectively on the Board of Trustees. Those with continuing terms include Dr. Philip Dubbs, Marvella Fletcher, Vice Chair Tamara Baird Ganley, Mark Hamler, Gary Heitmeyer, Darryl Mehaffie, and Chairman Thomas Milligan.