City leaders deserve credit

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 17, 2008

On Saturday, while much of the city was busy trying to figure out how to manage without electricity, Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship and a handful of other city leaders were busy trying to figure out how to eventually bring the lights back on at the Ro-Na Theater.

Councilmen Frank Murphy, Chuck O’Leary, Mike Lutz, Kevin Waldo, Leo Johnson, Mayor Blankenship and Economic Development Director Bill Dickens were busy cleaning out the debris in the dilapidated building.

The city leaders believe there is more to work with at the Ro-Na than originally, thought. The murals on the inside walls have been damaged because of exposure to the elements, but the structure appears to be solid, they said.

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“Actually, it is stronger than we thought,” said Councilman Frank Murphy, who also has orchestrated a community yard sale and other activities to help pay for the Ro-Na’s restoration. “The engineer stopped by and said he liked what he saw. He said once we get it cleaned out, he would do a full structural assessment, but he said it looks good right now.”

The efforts being made on the Ro-Na are admirable. Even though it is unclear what exactly the end result will be or the amount of money necessary to complete it, many downtown theater restorations across the country have been successful and have reaped rewards.

Hopefully, that can occur with the Ro-Na. Regardless, their work and commitment to make this project happen are noticeable.

Beyond the theater, Saturday’s efforts should not be viewed as an effort to simply garner publicity and score political points. The members of council are genuinely interested in bringing back one of downtown’s staples.

It is one of many signs of cooperation that are visible from this council. They should be commended for that, and citizens should recognize they have a city council that is leading by example on this project.