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Crash victim still in critical condition

An Ironton woman remains in critical condition after the Tuesday evening train accident that has Ironton officials reaffirming their commitment to improving access conditions to Center Street Landing.

Thursday, August 05, 1999

An Ironton woman remains in critical condition after the Tuesday evening train accident that has Ironton officials reaffirming their commitment to improving access conditions to Center Street Landing.

Mary Richendollar, 51, of Oak Street, Ironton, is still listed in critical condition at Cabell Huntington Hospital from injuries she received when a Norfolk Southern train collided at the Center Street crossing with the vehicle driven by her sister-in-law, Nancy Sutton, 56, of South Fifth Street. Mrs. Sutton was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at River Valley Health System Tuesday.

The tragedy is another example of the need to make safety the No. 1 priority of any improvements new grant funding will bring to the waterfront area, Ironton Mayor Bob Cleary said Wednesday.

"We have been notified that we will receive $168,007 from the Ohio Department of Watercraft for a Waterway Safety Fund Grant," Cleary said. "We applied for the grant in order to enhance the riverfront area, and improving the access to that area is a large part of our plans."

Without improving the access, other enhancements are unnecessary, he said. The recent fatality strengthens that conviction, he added.

"We could do a million or more dollars worth of improvements to the area, but if you don’t have safe access, it’s not worth it," Cleary said. "In light of Tuesday’s tragic accident, I think everyone is that much more aware of the fact that the safety of the residents is the absolute most important aspect of anything we do."

Although the city has received official notification of approval for the grant funding, the city is required to produce $50,000 in matching dollars before the state will officially hand over the funding, Cleary explained.

When the city applied for the grant early this year, Ironton City Council passed an ordinance supporting the move and agreed to set aside matching funds from the Worker’s Compensation rebate money.

But the money from that account is only to be used as a supplement, Cleary explained.

"The agreement, at the time, was that the city would try and raise the money through donations and private contributions before we would turn to the rebate money," he said.

This grant is the largest the city has ever received from an in-house application.

"We’re very excited about this grant, which was basically put together and written by our city engineer, Joe McCallister, and the engineering department, with the assistance of the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization and City Council," Cleary said. "We originally applied for less money, but we received more than we asked for without raising the amount of matching funds that was initially required."

Improvements to the entrance will include leveling the area, widening it to a full, two-lane entrance and adding additional lighting, all of which will increase visibility and safety, Cleary said.

Construction will not likely begin before the flood season ends next year, but the city plans to begin looking for contributions immediately, he said.