Mayor should open communication with business owners

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 14, 2008

Please let this letter serve as a warning to others who might have a different view than Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship — you will be handed your head.

Should you dare to suggest, as I did, that Ironton should be able to have a clean city and one that doesn’t poison the business climate, one of Mayor Blankenship’s supporters will assassinate your character.

If you dare to suggest, as I did, that our officials think before they act, Mayor Blankenship’s supporters will write letters saying, “if you don’t like it, get out of town.”

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In an amusing sort of way, this discussion has escalated from one challenging the enforcement of an ordinance regulating use of sidewalks, to one that accuses me of being against everything but breathing.

It might interest some of my critics to know that I have participated several times in Randy Lilly’s annual Ironton Cleanup Day. I have twice served as president of the Ironton Kiwanis Club and was a distinguished Kiwanis lieutenant governor for the local division. I worked with the Memorial Day Parade committee a number of years and was once parade commander. I was a director of the Boys Club of Ironton when it existed. I do not belong to the IBA.

I am looking forward to seeing the Ironton in Bloom program take shape and sent them a check for $100 long before this debate began.

I think some of you better be careful and find out the facts before this goes much further. From the tone of several letters, some seem ready to embark on a course that will put the city government in charge of determining what businesses can and cannot operate here.

At least three letters have railed against “rummage sales.” An internet comment attacked a store as selling “junk.” The business referenced, for the record, was a used furniture store.

Are we about to say no one can operate a used furniture store in Ironton? How about used appliances? Could this escalate to used cars? What else don’t you want in Ironton?

At last count there were five empty buildings in a two block area across from my store. They have been empty for years.

Why don’t my critics get busy and fill them with the type of stores you want? This town used to have a wide variety of nice shops, but they all faded away when people stopped shopping here and went out of town instead.

Until now I have had no problem with Mayor Blankenship’s leadership. I disagreed with his enforcement of the sidewalk ordinance. I lost. He won. The business targeted is gone. End of story.

He’s held the mayor’s job for four months. He served two years on city council before that, so I think it’s fair to challenge him, especially when his decisions affect someone’s livelihood. His decision has cost me $600 and an excellent tenant, so far.

He needs to come and talk to store owners once in a while. If he did, he would find us most cooperative.

And he might also discover one more way he’s saving the taxpayers money — by not replacing the burned out light bulbs in the Walk-Don’t Walk signs.

Tim Gearhart