• 43°

Ro-Na could shine for entire county

A distant memory from downtown Ironton’s past could become a key landmark of the city’s future.

After years of sitting empty, the Ro-Na Theater on Third Street was given to the city of Ironton last week, a move that could be the first step toward returning the former Ironton icon into a productive entertainment facility, or at the very least cleaning up an eyesore.

Capturing any of the Ro-Na’s glorious past will be a long — and likely expensive — journey, but one that is certainly worth exploring.

Engineering assessments have indicated the building has a fairly solid structure, but has suffered a lot of water damage over the years. At this point, it is difficult to tell how much it would cost to renovate the former nightlife Mecca.

We applaud city leaders, the Ironton Port Authority and the private owners for realizing that allowing the building to continue to decay serves no one. This exciting level of cooperation may be a small step, but it is a step in the right direction.

Operating a theater or movie house is certainly not an easy proposition. The Tri-State has seen the recent struggles of Midtown Cinema in Ashland, Ky., and the efforts to utilize the Keith Albee and Cinema theaters in Huntington, W.Va., in different ways.

Now is time to create a clear plan to partially renovate and market the theater and surrounding storefronts.

It will likely take grant dollars, volunteer help and private investment to make the Ro-Na shine like it once did.

Every community must have a heart. Once, Ironton’s — and really all of Lawrence County’s — beat along the downtown streets of the city. It hustled and bustled with shops, restaurants, night clubs and other attractions that brought people from miles around.

The Ro-Na was once a jewel. Shining up the diamond that has become rough will not be easy, but it could return some luster to the entire community.

For a building that was built to house the fine arts, it is fitting that a little imagination is required to see the full potential of what could be rather than what is.