Archived Story

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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