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River Valley#8217;s final service

The former River Valley hospital in Ironton will have a final service before it is razed to make way for new housing.

Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital will have a “Service of Thanksgiving,” at 3 p.m. on Oct. 14. According to a release from the hospital the ecumenical service “is both a look forward as well as a commemoration of the history of the property as it is readied for its transition into quality housing for the community of Ironton.”

Bill Dickens, the Ironton Port Authority chairman, said he thinks this is the proper way to send the building off.

“When the building was built there was a dedication, naturally and then with each addition, there was always a really nice ceremony,” Dickens said. “They were always well put together.”

Dickens said the hospital is memorable to him and many Irontonians.

“Many of us were born there and many of our relatives died there, so it is a building that I have a lot of attachment to,” he said. “I think may people in the community have a great attachment to it.”

Dr. Burton Payne will deliver the service’s message. Mark Gordon, OLBH CEO, and Judge Richard Walton will speak at the service. The Ironton High School Choir, directed by Kathy Price, will perform. The name for the new neighborhood will be announced at the service, as will plans for a memorial celebrating the property’s history.

Last year, officials with the Ironton Port Authority, the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization and OLBH announced plans to form a public-private partnership for the development of new residential housing on the site of the former River Valley Hospital in Ironton.

The new neighborhood is possible because of OLBH’s donation of the approximate five-acre site to the Ironton Port Authority. Additionally, OLBH provided funding and initiated appropriate environmental site assessments and pledged up to $100,000 should additional funds be required to prepare the site for further development.

A $750,000 Clean Ohio Assistance Fund grant from the Ohio Department of Development was awarded earlier this year to pave the way for the project coming to fruition. The grant will be used to pay for a portion of demolition, asbestos abatement, and site preparation at the property.

Once the site is ready, building of upscale, single-family houses will be built on the property.

Dickens said that the process is going forward but slowly as is usual with development deals.

“It’s going fine, it’s evolving slowly,” he said. He added that they might reduce the number of lots on the five acres of land. The original planned called for 23 houses on lots that were 65-foot lots.

“However, most of the people who have asked to purchase lots there have asked to have bigger lots,” Dickens said. “The thinking now is that maybe the lots need to be 75 or 80 feet wide, so naturally if we increase the width of the lots, we are going to decrease the number of lots.”

For more information, call the OLBH CareLine at (606) 833-CARE (2273).