Key to compromise is listening with an open mind

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 14, 2005

If you're reading this newspaper, you care about what is going on in Ironton and Lawrence County.

Why else would you invest your time reading a newspaper about this community?

See, in two brief paragraphs, we've already found something in common. If you and I were sitting at a table talking with one another, that could be the jumping off point for a world of discussions.

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This week, residents of the city of Ironton will get to begin a similar discussion about one of the most important decisions facing the city in years - rebuilding our city's educational infrastructure.

Much has been said and written about the options facing the Ironton City Schools. On one side, people are ardent believers that the best option is just to tear down all the existing school buildings and build new ones in their place.

Across the alley, another group believes firmly that the historic Ironton High School building should be saved, in whole or in part.

Both sides have much more in common than they have differences.

Like many issues that become politicized, the personalities involved seem to bubble to the top. Lots of arrows have been thrown at Ironton Superintendent Dean Nance.

Most, if not all, have been unfairly personal. And, while part of his role as a public figure dictates he'll get a few things thrown his way from time to time, the issue facing the city is far greater than Mr. Nance.

The ramifications of the city's actions on the school issue will be felt for generations to come.

On the flip side of the debate, the opposition, led by local attorneys Mark McCown and Phillip Heald, has raised the ire of many.

The pair and their supporters have been accused of wanting to stall progress or that they don't care about the students of Ironton.

Just as I don't believe Mr. Nance is deserving of such unabashed criticism, neither are the people who want to save the high school building.

Next week the Ironton School Board will meet to hear feedback from the community on what direction to go. Anyone who may have a lingering question or comment about the direction the schools need to go in should attend.

Just remember that a key part in any compromise is for both sides to listen, truly listen, to what others are saying. Then it's up to both sides to seek a middle ground on which to meet.

We already know that some middle ground exists - if we didn't care about the future, we wouldn't have voted last Tuesday - now we just have to work together to locate more areas of agreement.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached at (740) 532-1441, ext. 12 or by e-mail to