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Volunteers clean up downtown Ironton

Randy Lilly hopped up on a truck bed to cheer on the troops, showing the mark of a true optimist.

Saturday was the ninth annual Volunteer Cleanup

Day and it looked as if Mother Nature planned to be contrary.

Only a couple of hours earlier the heavens had opened up leaving many to wonder if the event would even happened.

But rain wasn’t going to stop Lilly, one of the day’s coordinators, who was out by 6:30 that morning dropping off bag after bag of mulch around town. All told, 200 bags were left along the sidewalks.

Now the big question was: Would the volunteers show up.

Right at 9, he had his answer and it was a resounding yes. Volunteers from Brownie troops to teen-agers to retirees showed up at the parking lot near the Center Street boat landing entrance, the starting point for the event.

“Don’t know why you showed up but I’m glad you did” he joked with the crowd.” “Before the day’s over, we’ll have made a difference.”

Joining him was Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship looking out of uniform in a shirt he’d probably never wear to the office.

“We don’t have control over everything but we have control over our destiny and our town and to make a commitment to move forward,” Blankenship said. “You are our destiny. Let’s get dirty and clean up this town.”

Then before sending the volunteers off for their appointed rounds of weeding and mulching the various flower beds in the downtown area, Lily gave a quick lesson in Gardening 101

“When you are weeding, this — holding up a potted plant — is a lily. That’s my namesake. Don’t pull up the flowers, just the weeds. And remember at 11 they’ll be pizza at the trailer.”

Concessions were provided by SuperQuik and Papa John’s.

Then young and old were off to christen freshly laundered

gardening gloves with mud and make some arms and backs a little stiff before day’s end, all for a good cause.

Among those joining in the cleanup were seventh to 10th graders from St. Joseph High School with teacher, Maria Whaley; members of the Imani Girls and Ujima Boys Clubs of the Ohio Association of Youth Clubs with Carol Seward; Ironton High Schools National Honor Society; and St. Lawrence School’s Brownie Troop 932 with Kim Zornes, parent, and Amy Woods, troop leader.

As the cleaning was going on, Ironton in Bloom volunteers were working to put out some plants and pole planters and baskets throughout downtown.

“It’s important to clean up the community to make a pretty environment. Then maybe more people will come,” Grace Seward, 17, of the HIS honor society, said.

With her was Tiffany Evans, 18, also of the honor society, who supported the cleanup because she believed the effort would bring some good press to the town.

“And the pizza is good,” she said.