Sad day, yes, but let’s look ahead now

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 4, 2000

Today is a sad day for many Intermet employees and their families as they prepare for the first stages of the plant closure, which is expected to continue through February.

Friday, February 04, 2000

Today is a sad day for many Intermet employees and their families as they prepare for the first stages of the plant closure, which is expected to continue through February.

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Losing jobs is not something that any city is immune to – it is part of life.

There are people who are already feeling the effects of the Intermet-Ironton Iron impending shutdown – and others who are worried about what the future will bring not only for the displaced workers, but for the community as well.

And it is OK to worry. Change is never easy and this past year of bad news has been a hard one on all of us.

So, for a little while, it is perfectly understandable if we all mourn a little.

For now, we need to be there for our families, friends and neighbors who are facing an uncertain future. We need to let them – and the others who have lost jobs before them – know that we care and will not forget that they need our prayers, support and help.

There will be a tendancy this week – and for the next couple of weeks – to look at the negative. And that is understandable. That is part of the healing process.

The closing of Intermet-Ironton Iron is an ending to a long history of iron in Lawrence County, but it is definitely not the last chapter in this town’s development story.

Anyone who thought that Ironton would close up and die after the Intermet-Ironton Iron announcement has not been paying attention to the mettle of the people who call this area their home.

There is no question that this has been a blow, but there are already plenty of people and resources ready, willing and busy getting the word out that Ironton – and Lawrence County – are open and ready for business.

With the help of the professionals provided by the governor’s office as well as some of the extra effort offered by both city and county officials and private volunteers, there is no question that this city will soon have more business than it can handle.

But don’t think skies will be blue immediately and that there will be a "sold" sign on the Intermet-Ironton Iron front gate next week. We still have a lot of work to do.

Let’s look at today as a chance to begin again, to reinvent ourselves and to create a future that is bright not just in the next six months, but for years to come.

That kind of plan will take more than just relying on development officials in the county to bring industrial prospects to us. We all have to be part of that marketing effort, too.

Lawrence County and Ironton have been through many setbacks over the years, challenges any area faces if it is around long enough.

Over the years, the communities have battled back from floods, job loss, tragedies, death, droughts, depression and a changing world.

It is time to call upon that strength once again and to fight to create a new niche for this community.

And all of us here and many of your neighbors and friends have already committed to being a part of that rebirth.

That doesn’t mean that we are going to sugar coat the bad news, either. If we are going to make a new start, we have to be willing not only to examine what could work, but be ready to face where we need to improve as well.

And to do that, we need your help.

Beginning Tuesday, The Ironton Tribune will open a special spot on the newspaper’s Web site, for your comments, suggestions, fears and ideas. Don’t be afraid to write what you think and if you are worried, use your screen name. We will print your comments in the newspaper for everyone to share.

Also, next week, we will host a live chat allowing people from all over the city to have a discussion of their own about Ironton and its future. We will announce the date and time, as well as instructions on how to join us, in Monday’s edition.

If you don’t have a computer and would like to participate, we will also open up a special phone line to accept your comments.

Everyone is busy these days. It can get tough finding time to think about your community. But, we need you now to be a part of this effort. Give us a good turnout next week and we will make sure that your enthusiasm and ideas get to the people who can help us.

Let’s show them that Ironton might be down, but that this city – and county – are not going to give up without a fight.

We look forward to hearing from you next week – and please, tell your friends. We need as many comments and suggestions as we can get.

Let’s show potential employers what kind of community Lawrence County really is – and why this is the place they want to be.

Renee Carey is the managing editor of The Ironton Tribune.