Mayor appoints port authority board

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 7, 2004

It was a "buzz word" during the election, but not much had been said about creating a port authority in Ironton until Mayor John Elam recently appointed the board of directors.

Contrary to what the name leads people believe, a port authority is not tied to the river. A port authority is simply an independent group of officials that can perform a variety of economic development projects differently, and often more efficiently, than a city government.

"We are anticipating the port authority to be a useful tool in economic development. We don't want to place limits on ourselves," Elam said. "It will assist us to meet the challenges of economic development through the expertise of business leaders within our community."

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The city's port authority is composed of a five-member board of directors appointed by the mayor and approved by city council. Members cannot receive any salary. Council approved the appointments two weeks ago.

Our Lady of Bellefonte employee Walt Holbrook will serve a one-year term that expires in 2005. Local businessman Rob Slagel will serve a two-year term, financial planner Jay Zornes will serve a three-year term and business owner Mike Haas and Bill Dickens, also with a background in business, will each serve a four-year term.

"I am looking very forward to working with these gentlemen from

diverse backgrounds," Elam said. "Each brings specific skills to the table. All have a commitment to the betterment of Ironton."

All were chosen for their progressive thinking and the way they will blend together, Elam said.

Haas said he is excited about the chance to help the city any way that he can.

"If there is some input that I can have to help move the city forward, I am willing to do it. I hope we can have a good exchange of ideas with the people on the board about what the community needs," Haas said. "The board includes a variety of people from a lot of different sectors, so we may be able to come up with some new ideas."

Port authorities can conduct commercial, industrial, residential and recreational development projects including property development, housing opportunities, marinas, railroad access, trucking terminals, warehouses, industrial buildings, piers and more.

The goal is to allow the city to have more flexibility

when discussing projects with prospective tenants. One primary purpose would be to negotiate the development of property that the city owns. If the city tries to lease city owned property, it must put the property out to public bid and cannot negotiate a contract. The port authority would not be restricted this way.

Last July, the Ironton City Council unanimously approved the creation of a port authority that will focus solely on Ironton. It was created so it would already be in place and not be affected by the county's plans to create one in the future.