It#039;s been a year full of news in Lawrence County

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 29, 2003

What a year it has been here in Lawrence County. It's been a year filled with news - some good, some not so good.

From the opening of the Duke Energy plant to February's ice storm, this year's news has shaped the county for many years to come.

But the ice storm wasn't the only nature-related event making headlines. One of the coolest things to happen this year was the completion of the work at Lake Vesuvius. With the valve closed on the rebuilt dam, residents and visitors alike will soon be frolicking in the lake again.

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With fresh fish habit in place and a plan to completely restock the lake, the fishing will be great in no time.

On the business front, things really began popping in 2003. The Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce and the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation both celebrated 20 years of existence. In addition, Dr. Bill Dingus, former dean of Ohio University Southern, took the helm at the chamber and LEDC.

Dingus is one of many people who are beginning to see the economic opportunities in the county and letting the world know about those opportunities.

Sadly, 2003 also bade good-bye to some long-standing Lawrence County fixtures including the Tipton's grocery store and bakery.

But as some businesses left, still others announced they were coming. Only a few month after Duke Energy went online with its electrical power plant, officials with Sun Coke announced a new coke plant will be built just across the Lawrence County line in Scioto County.

Politics played an interesting part in the history of 2003 as well. Residents in Ironton and Coal Grove voted out incumbent mayors. Voters sought a change in the status quo. In those races - and a few others - that's exactly what they got.

Lawrence County's people continued to make headlines in 2003, from downtown businessman Joe Unger whose shoe store earned two back-to-back designations to longtime CAO leader Keith Molihan, who announced his impending retirement.

Deacon Mark Moore, a St. Joseph Central Catholic High School graduate, returned home to become the first Ironton native to be ordained as a Catholic priest in his home town.

Yes, Lawrence County's people continue to make the place special.

This newspaper has changed a bit in the last year. A few new faces have come and a few others have left. We've added a number of new features from The Dart - in which we throw a dart at a map and find a story where it lands - to features on faith and family issues and stories about the many people who volunteer in our community. We hope you've enjoyed the changes and would encourage you to tell us what we can add that would make your newspaper even better.

In addition to changes here at The Ironton Tribune that you can read, we're putting the finishing touches on a major project that you can see, but not read. A large press renovation project is almost complete.

I've mentioned bits and pieces of the work in previous columns, but I'm not sure that I've ever explained the whole project.

Essentially, we've taken our 1963 Goss Suburban press and rebuilt a substantial portion of it. In addition we expanded the press by adding another press unit, which increased the amount of color we can print in each edition.

It's a first for us in many, many years. And the people who have made it happen deserve some thanks. Bo Elliott, Marty Fraley, Gary Cochran and Joey Smith have each invested their blood, sweat and tears in making the project happen. And I appreciate their work in helping us make a little "news" ourselves.

Hope everyone has a great New Year and I hope 2004 is filled with lots of good news.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached at (740) 532-1445 ext. 12 or by e-mail to