Ironton mayor wants city ready for federal help

Published 10:22 am Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship said while no one is quite sure what the federal stimulus package to states and cities will actually entail, he is submitting his wish list to the area’s U.S. congressional leaders now in hopes of being at the front of the line when it comes time to hand out any money.

Blankenship and Doug Cade, engineer with E.L. Robinson, met last week with state officials to discuss the federal economic stimulus package and then followed up that meeting with a visit to U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s office.

“They really didn’t have any details. The proposed bill changes daily,” Blankenship said. “I was told to apply for what we need and to prioritize.”

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At the top of the city’s list is $18 million to pay for Ironton’s combined sewer overflow separation. The city is in negotiations with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to come into compliance with the National Combined Sewer Overflow policy. This project will also address flooding issues in the north end of town.

While the city has secured two $300,000 grants and a half-million loan from the Ohio Public Works Commission, that leaves more than $16 million the city would have to bear at a time when there are more needs than dollars.

Blankenship is also asking for $1.8 million to pay for the design of the project. The design funding is request number two.

Blankenship also wants $8 million to replace the city’s eight floodwall pump stations and emergency generators.

The wish list is being sent not only to Brown but also to U.S. Sixth District Rep. Charlie Wilson and U.S. Sen. George Voinovich for their assistance.