Leaders throw support behind beautification effort

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 14, 2007

A group of area business, government and civic leaders came together last night to discuss whether a proposed beautification program could help Ironton — and whether there are enough people who believe in the program to make it work.

Dr. Bill Dingus, executive director of the Greater Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, is one of the people who think the America in Bloom program is a natural fit for the city.

The idea behind the America in Bloom program is to improve the future of a community by making even small changes in the appearance of it. Planting flowers may not sound like a high priority items to some, but that’s the point of the program: sometimes even small changes can have a dramatic impact — but first there must be people willing to invest their collective time and effort.

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“Something can be done if there are people who believe it’s worth being done,” Dingus said.

Some other cities in the region have signed onto the program and found some success in it: Gallipolis and Marietta among them. Gallipolis has even won an award for its efforts.

It would cost the city just under $800 to join the program. But Dingus said Tuesday’s meeting was not a time to agonize over costs but instead serve as a think tank to come up with ideas about how the America in Bloom idea could be incorporated here.

There are benefits, he said, to making the town more attractive, chief among them civic pride, economic development and a greater sense of cooperation among groups.

Ralph Kline, assistant executive director of the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization, said when officials with the Main Street revitalization program visited the city recently, they pointed out that while Ironton has its strong points, tidiness is not necessarily one of them.

“They found that Ironton has a lot of assets, such as streets and sidewalks and curbs, the thing that was lacking was attention to detail,” he said. “And that’s the least expensive thing.”

Dingus pointed out that Ironton’s downtown already has places where flowers could easily be planted, such as the areas around trees along Second and Third streets. However, the beautification effort would also stretch into residential areas to city limits. In some cities, there are contests for lawn care and landscaping.