Ironton firefighters get 3-year contract

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 29, 2003

Union president Joe Marshall and the rest of the Ironton firefighters present could not hide their huge smiles after the Ironton City Council unanimously adopted a new 3-year contract Thursday.

Marshall, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 532 union, said he is relieved and pleased to put this behind the department.

"We are happy to get it approved," he said. "We would like to have more people, but we are working on that."

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The new contract is essentially the same as was already approved for the police department and other city employees. The firefighters have been working under an extension since the end of April.

Changes in the new contract include the 5-percent pay increase given to all non-management city employees, a $10 increase in health insurance costs, a 21-day layoff notice, an increase in the sick leave accumulation percentage, a $100 per year first responder incentive to help pay for costs of continued training and an additional 25-cent pay increase for the fire inspector to help make up for the loss of wages from working less hours.

The contract will expire on March 31, 2006. As is a common practice, the union will have the option of wage reopeners in 2004 and 2005.

In other business, Coal Grove resident Kyle McKnight, speaking on behalf of Ohio University Southern, and Brizia "Sweetie" Lowery, senior aquatic director for the Ashland Area YMCA, told council that the university and the YMCA are interested in developing a fitness center and recreation area in the city.

Lowery read a letter from Richard Ritchie, CEO of the Ashland Area YMCA, that stated the organization is excited about the possibility of expanding into Lawrence County and continuing its mission of the past 106 years of offering fitness, sports, aquatics and youth activities.

The key to the whole concept is available property because 15 to 20 acres would be needed, McKnight said. He proposed using the Ironton Iron property along Third Street.

McKnight said that OUS is completely behind the project and plans to start a baseball team in the spring. He presented council with a preliminary sketch that includes a baseball stadium, basketball arena, a fitness center, a soccer stadium, three outdoor basketball courts and three softball/baseball fields.

Council referred the issue to the Industrial Development Committee, chaired by Councilman Brent Pyles, to look at this site or other potential locations.