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Council to vote on future of port authority

Published 9:42am Thursday, March 28, 2013

The future of the city’s volunteer economic development group will be up for a vote at tonight’s Ironton City Council meeting.

On Tuesday, council, the Ironton mayor and members of the Ironton Port Authority met in special session with members of the Lawrence County Port Authority to discuss the possibility of a single agency taking the lead in the county’s economic growth.

The meeting was originally set for Monday but only three council members attended. A majority must be present to have an official meeting and go into executive session.

The meeting was rescheduled for Wednesday and held in executive session to discuss personnel, that being the position of Ironton’s economic development director, which council chose not to fund this year after the retirement of director Bill Dickens. The group also discussed the real estate of the IPA, Mayor Rich Blankenship said.

“Over the past several months, we have been looking for other avenues for Ironton’s future economic development,” Blankenship said.

After talks with the IPA, county port authority, the Lawrence Economic Development Corp and the county commission, Blankenship said he felt optimistic those agencies are on board to dissolve the IPA and create one agency to boost economic development efforts in Ironton.

“Nothing is finalized at this time but we are well on our way to forming a plan to benefit the City of Ironton and Lawrence County,” Blankenship said. “Ironton being the county seat, I believe what helps Ironton helps the county and what the county does helps Ironton. With these efforts in mind, talks are ongoing but I feel confident at the end of the day, we will see a better economic development push not only for Ironton but for the entire county.”

Dickens, member of the IPA and former economic development director for the city declined to comment before the dissolution was final, but said he would be open to discussing the IPA’s past accomplishments at a later time.

An ordinance on ICC’s agenda for tonight will put the dissolution of the IPA up for its first vote. The ordinance will have three readings before it can be approved unless council suspends the rules and declares an emergency.

Blankenship said more details about the possible merger will come out in the coming weeks, but for now, he is hopeful the other county agencies will join in the efforts to create one economic development entity.

“I have nothing but the utmost respect for the Ironton Port Authority and it is my belief that the Ironton City Council feels the same way,” Blankenship said. “They (the IPA) are in agreement to what is being talked about. … I think everybody is working for the betterment of our entire county, and that’s exactly what needs to happen.”

Also on tonight’s agenda:

• First reading of an ordinance that would repeal ordinance 12-36 and re-establish the $14 municipal fee for public safety for the City of Ironton and declaring an emergency;

• First reading of an ordinance to execute an agreement with Front Range Environmental LLC for the Ironton sanitary manhole rehabilitation project;

• First reading of an ordinance to execute an agreement with Mi-De-Con Inc., for the Nixon Hill water tank site landslide repair project;

• Resolution to enter into an agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation to enter the corporation limits to mow on designated sections of highways.

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  • Poor Richard

    I agree with swampcreature, many of the vacant and rentable buildings in Ironton sat empty for years because the South Point folks did not market them.

    But on the other hand, the IPA is not what I would consider successful. It’s all about leadership, as long as local government’s goals are to employ the locals rather than get someone that can do the job, it will NEVER be successful – just another money pit.

    I think this is the biggest problem in southern Ohio and why things don’t get done, whether it’s local agencies like the CAO or the IPA, it’s not about giving somebody’s buddy a job, it’s about getting the job done, not at 20% capacity while sucking up a salary but at 150%. Most of the people in charge of this county are pathetic at best; they don’t have the education, the knowledge or understanding of economics, of the region, of rural land use, of our tax system, of finances and investments,they have few communication skills, no network built up, decisions are made by hear say rather than facts, they have no education in rural planning or development, have no idea how to manage contracts or work with contractors, don’t know the laws of regulations of the state, and on and on and on. There are no committees assigned to working with legislators to make changes. It’s a constant, revolving circle of incompetenece and things never change, they just get worse.

    Sounds to me like Ironton simply doesn’t want the expense of the IPA, if it was successful, they would likely fund it, but I suspect now they want another county entity to take over the expense of the real estate and paying the former director to do what exactly??

    (Report comment)

  • swampcreature

    The Ironton Port Authority was formed to have people from Ironton working to better Ironton. Before its creation, Ironton got the short end of the stick for a long time as shell building after shell building went up in South Point. Believe it or not, much of Ironton’s Empowerment Zone money was actually spent in South Point to get its industrial park rolling.

    Now, we are about to return to what never worked for Ironton in the past. The problem with the IPA has been a lack of resources and initiative, not its concept. For example, IPA neglected to erect a business sign at the so-called South Ironton Industrial Park.

    I believe the organization needs a major overhaul instead of disbandment.

    City council should truly think this over and not rush into anything.

    (Report comment)

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