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Council takes possession of Ro-Na

The city of Ironton is now the owner of the old Ro-Na Theater.

At the city council meeting on Thursday, the council passed a resolution allowing Mayor Rich Blankenship to sign a contract to accept the theater.

There was some debate because of a few broadly worded statements in the contract.

“It is time to go on this,” said Councilman Butch Huff. “In the worst case scenario, we’ve been granted a great big pig. It’s up to us to make it a ham.”

Councilman Frank Murphy, whose day job is a contractor, has looked over the building and said except for the roof, it is in structurally good condition, although there is some lead paint and asbestos because that is what was used 60 years ago.

The council accepted the building as is and Blankenship signed the contract immediately.

That was the only resolution or motion to pass Thursday night because councilmen Mike Lutz and Bob Cleary were out of town and the council needs six of seven councilmen present to have a quorum.

So the city council will meet tonight at 6:30 p.m. to discuss passing ordinances on the budget and some sewer line work.

During the meeting, councilmen discussed with Police Jim Carey about getting new cars for his department and with the mayor about forming a long-range planning committee.

Carey said that for what the department is paying for used cars and the maintainance costs associated with those vehicles, the city could get six new cars a year and come out ahead.

“I spend two weeks a month doing nothing but dealing with our vehicles,” he said.

Some of the police cruisers have 100,000 to 150,000 miles and have all the repairs associated with a high-mileage car. The department has lost two cars recently, an engine blew in one and another was totaled in a high-speed chase last week.

Carey said the impound lot generates $40,000 a year and that money could go towards the purchase of new cars and he had talked to a local bank and could get a cheaper interest rate than he could from Ford Motor Company.

Huff, who is a salesman for Giant Auto Group in Ashland, Ky., said that new cars are the way to go.

“For one thing, you have a warranty which takes care of some of the repair costs,” he said. “I think we are crazy to buy old, you are just continually putting money in them.”

Councilman Kevin Waldo suggested the council put together a long-range planning committee.

“We’ve been doing nothing but putting out fires,” he said. “We need to get ahead of things.”

Under the city charter, the vice mayor can set up special committees.

Leo Johnson said he would like to see such a committee include council, the mayor, city union workers and members of the public.

“This is for our future,” he said.

Blankenship said he is for such a committee to get the city moving forward.

“This is our time to do it,” he said. “We are going to do it the right way and make it work.”