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Marina company files lawsuit against LEDC

A hearing tomorrow in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court will focus on a lawsuit filed by a local business against the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation.

McGinnis, Inc. filed the lawsuit against the LEDC and its executive director, Patricia Clonch, charging that the LEDC entered into a secret and illegal property lease with a competitor, Superior Marine, for property at The Point industrial park.

In the lawsuit, McGinnis executives charge that the lease agreement was approved by the LEDC's executive board, which has no public officials among its members, instead of the LEDC's board of trustees, and that this is violation of state law.

The suit also alleges that executive board meetings are held in secret, in violation of the state's

open meetings statutes.

The suit further alleges that Clonch has instituted a policy of secrecy that keeps important information from the LEDC board members who are supposed to govern the LEDC.

The McGinnis suit also states that the LEDC has mismanaged taxpayer money with respect to the industrial park and, in particular, the Superior Marine lease, and that McGinnis officials were misled about the LEDC's relationship with Superior Marine.

The suit seeks to have the lease declared invalid, and also seeks to require the LEDC to follow the state laws regarding such similar issues in the future.

It has been assigned to the docket of special judge Everett Burton, a retired Common Pleas judge from Scioto County.

The Ironton Tribune contacted Clonch, who said that on the advice of the LEDC's attorney, Robert Dever, officials would not make any comments until after the hearing.

The Tribune also attempted to contact Doug McGinnis, an owner of McGinnis, Inc., but he had not returned telephone calls as of press time. Teresa Moore/The Ironton Tribune