Leaders work on plan for county

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Although they may have all had different designations, the city, village and county leaders that met at Ohio University Southern Monday night were united for one purpose: crafting a plan for Lawrence County.

Ironton Mayor John Elam, who initiated the meetings, said he’d wanted a cohesive plan to benefit not just his city, but all of the communities of Lawrence County.

“Some days it will be a success for Hanging Rock, some days for South Point, some days for Proctorville,” Elam said. “But we will all benefit.”

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“This probably should have been done years ago,” county commission president George Patterson said. “I think if we’re all singing out of the same songbook, it can’t come to anything but good. If we live in the eastern end or the western end, we’re all Lawrence County.”

Ironton City Council chairman Chuck O’ Leary told Hanging Rock councilman Vic Hopper that he’d like Ironton to look with Hopper’s village at annexation to help deal with the city being landlocked, something Hopper balked at.

“It won’t work right now. They haven’t shown us where we fit in Ironton, why we need to be there,” Hopper said.

Hopper also said that his village was planning on developing a campground with 200 miles of trail system.

“That’s going to happen, and when it does you’re going to need hotels,” Hopper said.

Elam said that while he appreciated the individual ideas, he was thinking a bit bigger: wanting to create a concrete plan that could be followed by all the leaders.

Some of the priorities that ended up on the meeting’s list included: developing a mass transit system, trying to attract smaller businesses that support large industries and a health care facility.

Hopper said that he would also like to see the gathered officials take the initiative to learn about some of the issues facing the county.

“We’ve got to, as leaders, educate ourselves,” Hopper said.

“If we don’t know what we’re talking about, how can we tell the common people what to do?”

The group decided that their alliance, which would focus on Ironton, Coal Grove and Hanging Rock, would continue to hold monthly meetings, with the next step being to create subcommittees to attack problems separately.

While Elam admitted that Ironton would always be his first priority, he pledged his support to the rest of the county, with a message that seemed as if it could have been a theme for the evening.

“This initial meeting was just for us to say that there’s no wall in front of me,&uot; Elam said. “I’m here to support Coal Grove and Hanging Rock as much as I’m here to support Ironton. There are no walls in front of me.”