Mayor, council address concernsPublished 9:57am Friday, March 29, 2013
At its Thursday night meeting, the Ironton City Council addressed several questions and concerns from one resident who said she wanted answers to the rumors she has heard throughout the community.
Yvonne DeKay Sinnott, who owns Yvonne DeKay School of Dance in downtown, said she has heard worries from folks in the community about the Ironton Police Department, specifically that the response time is too slow.
Currently, IPD has 11 full-time officers with two on duty at a time.
Mayor Rich Blankenship responded, giving Sinnott an example of a car accident he heard this week near his home.
“Within two minutes, there were two police cruisers there,” Blankenship said, noting he watched the scene from his porch. He said the first responders with the Ironton Fire Department were also on the scene within a few minutes.
Blankenship said that is not always the case because the officers could be on separate calls or on call together, depending on the danger-level of the call.
“People have to understand they are not just sitting around waiting to get a call,” he said.
Sinnott also expressed concern about the Rally on the River put on by the Friends of Ironton.
“Where does this money go? she asked. “Who is making money off of the rally, I really want to know that answer.”
She also questioned whether the city was collecting vendor fees or charging rent for camping space.
Blankenship explained that the FOI are a non-profit group that raises money from the rally to put back into city projects such as the Splashpark, which was completely funded by the civic group.
“The city didn’t have to put in any money? Sinnott asked. “See, I heard differently.”
“I hear rumors everyday and that’s exactly what they are — rumors,” Blankenship said.
The mayor also explained that the parking lot on the former Ironton Iron site, owned by the city, is leased by Frogtown during the rally.
Blankenship said the city doesn’t have the manpower to keep constant watch over the area to rent spaces, so Frogtown leases it after filling out insurance forms and with the condition that it must be cleaned after use.
The rest of the Ironton Iron site is still under restriction by the Ohio EPA, Blankenship said, but he hopes to have the more than four-year ongoing process to rehabilitated the site concluded by this fall.
Mike Lutz, council chairman, addressed the issue of vendors. He said the city collects fees from vendors outside the rally grounds and the FOI collect the fees from within the grounds.
Sinnott also complained that she had made efforts to help with the restoration of the Ro-Na but was told she was not allowed to help because of liability reasons.
Councilman Kevin Waldo told her the FOI leases the space and council has no control over that group, nor does the city own the building.
Waldo said council has an open door policy and welcomes the public to attend the meetings every two weeks or call the council members personally.
“We’d be glad to discuss things that would be a betterment to Ironton,” he said.
Blankenship said it is not uncommon to hear rumors like the ones Sinnott has heard and he handles complaints daily.
“My door is open all the time,” Blankenship said. “We deal with concerns, issues and complaints all day everyday. Even at night when they knock on my door. If anyone has concerns, I will be more than happy to sit down with them and discuss the issues and try my best to explain the situation.”
In other business:
• Blankenship congratulated the Ironton High School boys basketball team for their season and their final four game last week.
Those young men played one heck of a ball game,” he said. “They don’t have anything to be ashamed of.”
Lutz echoed the sentiment, saying “They had a hell of a season.”
• Lawrence County Auditor Jason Stephens addressed council to make them aware of the homestead exemption tax program. The program is available to people 65 years old or older, or permanently disabled people, who own the home they are living in.
Through the exemption, the first $25,000 in value of the property is shielded from being taxed.
Stephens said there are about 1,283 homes on file that use the exemption, which saves about $393,000 for those taxpayers.
“And the good thing is the state reimburses that, so it doesn’t effect the schools or any levies here in town,” Stephens said.
• Jon Ferguson, executive director for Ironton aLive, introduced himself to council and told them he has met with local leaders, civic groups and businesses to explain the non-profit’s purpose of revitalizing Ironton’s business community.
Ferguson told council his office was located in the Transit Center of Second Street and he welcomed a meeting with anyone who had questions or ideas.
• Passed an ordinance that would repeal ordinance 12-36 and re-establish the $14 municipal fee with a 6-1 vote, with councilman Dave Frazer voting against the ordinance.
• Passed an ordinance to execute an agreement with Front Range Environmental LLC for the Ironton sanitary manhole rehabilitation project.
• Passed an ordinance to execute an agreement with Mi-De-Con Inc., for the Nixon Hill water tank site landslide repair project;
• Had first reading on an ordinance that would dissolve the Ironton Port Authority.
• Had second reading of a new contract with the Fraternal Order of Police union that includes a 6 percent wage increase and 7.5 percent retirement pickup.
• Entered into executive session to discuss union negotiations with no action taken.