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Rumors about RVHS building squashed

Sometimes the smallest rumor can create the biggest stir.

Rumors that the Dennis J. Boll Group and Shelter Home will be moved to the former River Valley Hospital location have prompted a community petition against the idea - and a vehement denial from county officials.

Area residents have begun circulating a petition asking county officials to find some other site for the group home, which is expected to move to make way for a motel and retail complex announced late last year.

That complex would be located just off the U.S. 52/State Route 93 interchange and would use land that now houses a used car lot, some residential property, the group home and the county garage.

Lawrence County Commissioner George Patterson said Thursday he opposes any plan to relocate the group home to the old hospital site, which was purchased nearly three years ago by Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital and now sits empty, except for one small EMS bay occupied by Patriot Ambulance.

"It's not true," Patterson said. "It's absolutely not going there. I'll tell you right now, up front, we're not looking at it, not going to go there. We're not going there with the juvie home. We won't go there."

Several citizens also attended the Ironton City Council meeting to express their opposition and explained that they have already received more than 40 signatures from residents along Eighth Street.

"Our thing is that we don't want to wake up and find a juvenile facility has moved in right across the street from us without us having any say so," said resident Ginny Haas.

Several councilmen also said they did not want to see the home there.

But as far as group home director Brett A. Looney is concerned the community has the wrong idea about the facility, no matter where it ultimately moves to.

"These are our community's children. They aren't kids from Cincinnati or Columbus. This is the same group of young men and women that provide hundreds of hours of community service to Ironton and other communities in Lawrence County," Looney said of the facility that served more than 400 youth last year.

"We are going to make a good neighbor in whatever neighborhood we locate in, and we have been a good neighbor here for more than 100 years. … Whatever community we end up in, we want the community to be involved."

The group home move is one of a couple of rumors involving the hospital that have been circulating in the last few weeks. Another rumor is that a Columbus-area doctor has purchased the hospital and is moving his practice in the old building.

The Lawrence County Auditor's Office does not show any land transfers involving the old hospital, nor does the Lawrence County Recorder's Office show any kind of lease of space in the building.

An Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital spokesman said the hospital

will provide comment as soon as any concrete plans are finalized and ready to be announced.