Questions spark discussion, answers

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 28, 2003

Tribune Staff

We asked what we thought were a few simple, although pointed questions, which we thought was our right -- even our duty -- to do. What we got was lots of discussion, some answers and more than a little hostility from a few people.

The subject was the recent announcement by the City of Ironton and Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in Russell, Ky. The hospital is bringing several dozen jobs into Ironton, specifically at the soon-to-be renovated fourth floor of the City Center.

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We questioned how the city was going to pay for the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to renovate the office space required. And, we questioned whether or not the sizable investment was worth the hoopla.

At the time we wrote our questions, we simply did not understand the plan that was being worked out privately.

It didn't take long before those "in the know" jumped in and offered answers to our questions.

To some people, it seems our ignorance of what had been discussed privately meant we were wrong for asking the questions. We disagree, though, knowing what we learned after the fact, the logic of the city's plan makes a lot more sense.

In short, the city believes OLBH's rent will more than offset the amount the city must borrow in order to pay for the renovations. We say "believes" because as of last week, the deal was not yet complete.

The bottom line is: OLBH's move to bring jobs here is great. Any additional jobs in Lawrence County are certainly welcome, needed and appreciated. For the record, we never said anything different from that.

All we did was question the specifics and logic of a plan that -- no matter how you look at it -- will spend taxpayers' money, either through direct funding or through grant sources.

For that, we have no apologies.