Giveaway causes road congestion

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Ironton Police were called out to a food giveaway on Tuesday morning because of a huge number of cars blocking traffic.

Church of the King in downtown Ironton was having the food giveaway in the 900 block of Ninth Street as part of its annual Christmas events and the police started getting complaint calls from people who couldn’t get out of their driveways.

“This thing was so massive,” Police Chief Jim Carey said, adding there were “hundreds of vehicles” on Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Quincy and Pine streets as people waited to get food. “If a fire truck or an ambulance had to get to a house in that area, they couldn’t have gotten through.”

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Carey said there were fights because of people cutting in line.

Carey said he wanted to shut down the giveaway, but Mayor Rich Blankenship said to let it continue.

“I talked to Pastor Butch Deer and he said they would be finished in two hours which would have been 1 p.m.,” Blankenship said. “We aren’t against this type of activity but we do have to consider the safety of the people in the neighborhood. It would have been impossible to get an ambulance in there.”

Carey said the church did not have an assembly permit from the city, so his department didn’t even know it was going on until they started getting complaints.

He thinks it should be held at the city’s industrial park, which has a long access road, or at a building with a large parking lot.

“The way they did it was just pure chaos,” he said.

Carey said he didn’t have an issue with the food giveaway itself.

“It is obviously needed, otherwise there wouldn’t be that many people waiting,” he said. “I just think they need to find an alternative site. It is a wonderful thing they are doing it was just the wrong area to have that many people.”

Deer was unavailable for comment.