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Ironton rec levy up for renewal

One of the issues facing Ironton voters on the Nov. 6 ballot is the renewal of the recreational levy.

It is a .5 percent renewal, meaning that people are already paying for it, but it expires at the end of the year.

If it passes, the renewal would erase state-mandated tax reduction factors that have been placed on the current levy.

For a person with a $30,000 home, the levy would mean the owner would pay $4.95 a year. A person with a $90,000 home would $13.78 annually.

John D. Willis, who is on the recreation department advisory board, said he supports the levy renewal because he has four kids from 8 months old to 10 years old and wants to continue recreational programs for them.

He said they spend a lot of time at Molten Field where his kids practice football and soccer.

He remembers playing baseball and recreational football league when he was a kid.

“It was a different setup then,” he said. “They had more stuff at the park for the kids during the summers.”

He said with a new person in charge of the rec department, Brett Thomas, they are going to try to get back to that.

“I would like to see some of the newer developmental type playground equipment,” he said. Specifically, he’d like to see the military fitness test where there are various stations with different types of exercise.

“I think one of the keys is that this is the renewal of an old levy,” Willis said. “With the new structure of the department, I think the money will go towards better use than it has in the past.”

The rec department’s annual budget is $69,000 and the department’s only full-time employee is Thomas. There are two part-time employees during the summer months. The rec department is in charge of maintaining the Beechwood, Etna, Molten Field, and Edna Kopacz parks. It also assists the youth football league, the basketball league and the adult softball league as well as youth cheerleading.

Thomas said the levy is crucial to his department, the various athletic leagues and anyone who enjoys the parks.

“As far as the levy goes, we are taking the kids and giving them something to do,” he said. “It’s a positive situation for the kids.”

He said as the only employee in the department he is always busy. On a daily basis, he’s out picking up trash, mowing lawns and painting and maintaining playground equipment.

And once the Friends of Ironton have the Veterans Park completed that will fall to Thomas to clean and maintain. He figures it will take a week just to mow that and Molten Field.

“Those are the things people don’t see,” he said.

He said talks are under way about expanding the summer programs similar to the one this past summer at the Ninth Street Park that was so successful.

“There’s a lot of work getting involved in getting that up and running,” he said.

And as part of his 10-year plan, he would like to see a youth center built to give kids in Ironton somewhere to go.

Thomas is also in talks about getting all new equipment for the parks.

“I think that is going to happen,” he said. “The old stuff is dilapidated and just needs to be replaced.”