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City leaders pleased with response to income survey

Results from the citywide income survey conducted in July are in, and now the city of Ironton will be able to receive more grant money for projects that can benefit the entire city.

"We had a really good response," said Ralph Kline, community development director for the Lawrence County Community Action Organization. "Generally, the return for this type of survey is 5 percent (of the population), we had 15-20 percent."

The survey results showed that 74 percent of the city is classified as low to moderate income as defined by HUD, compared to the 47 percent classification from 1997 census results.

Previously, Ironton was grouped in a metropolitan area with Huntington, W.Va. and Ashland, Ky. by census data used to determine federal grant funding. This limited the amount of money available and how it could be used.

Now, the city can use state guidelines instead of metropolitan standards when applying for some grant programs, Kline said.

In the past, the majority of grant money could only be used for work done in targeted areas. Now, the entire city can be considered a targeted area.

Mayor Bob Cleary said the city is pleased with the support received and wants to thank everyone who worked hard on the project.

"When we decided to do a survey, we received a lot of negative comments," he said.

"This kind of response shows there are a lot of concerned citizens that want to help.

"We thought we would be lucky to get a couple hundred back. We received 40 or 50 the first day and about 300 the second day."

Initially, the city hopes to help fund construction of the new fire station and make improvements to the city's water system including replacing the reservoir and water tanks.

The city already has about $420,000 from Community Development Block Grants and Revolving Loan Funds that will be used towards financing the $1.7 million fire station, Kline said.

Plans for a new station began more than three years ago. City officials hope to build the 10,600 square foot building and fund it over 30 years using these monies, local financing and the fire fees.

Kline recommended approaching the water and sewer project in multiple phases. He said the city may be eligible for an additional $500,000 in

competitive CDBG funds for water and sewer improvements.

The city may also apply for Issue Two funds, which is a combination of grants and zero percent loans that can be used for infrastructure and utility projects.

As work continues on the South Ironton Industrial Park and businesses commit to locate there, the city may be eligible for grants from the Rural Industrial Park program, Kline said.

Although the data still awaits final approval by the state, Kline is optimistic that it will be approved because they had a good distribution of responses.

He said they should have results by the end of the month. The data will be applicable until 2013.

"The survey isn't the answer for everything but can help the city fund many citywide projects," Kline said. Michael Caldwell/The Ironton Tribune