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Vets to take shot at Memorial Hall

Ironton City Council hopes Monday night was the first step in what might be a solution for its dilemma with Memorial Hall.

And that solution might come one dollar at a time.

During Monday’s City Council meeting, which was moved up from its regular Thursday time because of the Thanksgiving holiday, representatives from American Legion Post 433 said they would join other veterans groups and tackle the challenge of saving one of the city’s most recognizable structures.

Second Vice Commander Tom McClain and Sergeant-At-Arms Jim Volgares laid out their plan. They said they are seeking the support of other local veterans groups, including American Legion Post 590, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, AMVETS and the Purple Heart Society.

But from there, they said they would mount a state and national campaign to rally nearly eight million veterans to come to the rescue of the dilapidated building that was once a meeting place for Lawrence County veterans.

“We are extremely optimistic that this endeavor can come to fruition,” said Volgares, who said the networking has already started on the state and federal levels. “Without their support we could not have gotten behind this.”

Volgares showed the numbers of the national members for each service group – American Legion (2.9 million), VFW (1.6 million), DAV (1.44 million), AMVETS (1.2 million) and Purple Heart Society (800,000).

He said he expects widespread support because the 7.9 million veterans will be asked to donate just $1.

Each Council member thanked the two men for their commitment of time and energy to the restoration effort. The two men and council members recommended the formation of a non-profit committee that the property could be transferred to so state grant dollars would be more easily accessible. Council member Butch Huff, a veteran, volunteered his services to the committee.

McClain and Volgares said they hope to have the committee formed by the end of the year.

Council said a similar committee is being formed to assist with the completion of the Ro-Na Theater.

In other news:

– Council passed a resolution to transfer up to $40,000 from the general fund to cover a revenue shortfall in the water department. Superintend-ent Mark White told council during a finance committee meeting before the council meeting that the reasons for the shortfall are lack of payment from renters and the increase of operating expenses.

Council President Bob Cleary and Councilman Frank Murphy voted against the resolution. Cleary said it was the first time in his recollection the city has ever had to transfer money from the general fund to sustain an enterprise fund.

Cleary said he wondered if the transfer of funds will address the problem. He said he wants to see how the money will be used in order to make sure it remedies the situation.

Before the vote, Murphy said earlier legislation should have prevented renters from being allowed to accumulate high water bills without paying them.

“If this (shortfall) is because of cost overhead, I say let’s help them out,” Murphy said. “If it’s because of work performance not being done, I say let it sink.”

– Council unanimously passed an ordinance to amend the budget for salaries and other expenses.

– Council gave first reading to adopt the temporary operating budget for 2009.

– Council gave first reading to an ordinance that would fine pet owners for not cleaning up after their pets. If passed, violators would be fined not less than $25 and not more than $100 if pet feces is not removed from public property or property that is not owned by the pet owner.

– Council gave first reading to an ordinance that would transfer certain property on Third Street to the Ironton Port Authority.

– Council gave second reading to an ordinance that outlines rates for septic haulers and the criteria for what it means to be considered a local hauler.

– Council passed an emergency resolution for the transfer of funds for fire department overtime.

– A public utilities meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 3 at 6 p.m. at the Ironton City Center.