Commander in Charge

Published 9:27 am Monday, September 7, 2009

IRONTON — Public service has been woven into the fabric of Paul Woods nearly all his life.

The Ironton native, who served his country for more than 23 years as an officer in the United States Navy, embarks on his next chapter of civil service.

On Tuesday, Woods will take over the reins of the Ironton Port Authority as chairperson of the five-member body responsible for creating and supporting economic development within the city of Ironton. He replaces Mike Haas whose term expired.

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A 1956 graduate of Ironton High School and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy with a degree in engineering, Woods returns to the city he calls “a good place to be,” after a military and subsequent private sector career that saw him employed by firms such as Northrop Grumman Corporation and Delta Resources, Inc.

Like the challenges of a military career where he rose to the rank of Commander, Woods is eager to tackle the challenges facing the city and residents of Ironton.

“Anything to improve the revenue stream for the city, we are on board,” Woods said when explaining the drive to bring new business and industry to Ironton. “I want to be influential. I think I can help and I want to help.”

Woods said the biggest issue facing the city is the lack of jobs and his focus will be to bring in more good paying jobs for the city’s aging infrastructure. He also talked about improving the “efficiency” of Ironton.

“There are a lot of holes in the economy,” Woods explained. “Right now we are near critical mass.”

Woods cites the lack of “niche businesses” in the city, especially downtown, like a good men’s store, a good women’s store and even a coffee shop as issues facing the city.

He also calls on the nearly vacant, 23-acre Ironton Industrial Park as a source of hope when it comes to the economic future of the city.

“Our main focus will always be good paying industrial jobs,” Woods said about the industrial park. “We are looking for a company or companies that are looking for real industrial capacity.”

Woods also said the Ironton Port Authority’s involvement in restoring the Ro-Na Theatre is also a priority in bringing additional revenue and spending power to the city.

“We are determined to restore the Ro-Na,” explained Woods when talking about the possibilities the historic theatre can offer like receptions, meetings and a growth of the arts in Lawrence County. “I’m very enthusiastic about the spirit that has been shown by some of the community leaders since coming back to Ironton.”

Woods, who is avid outdoorsman, moved to back to Ironton last month. His brother, Jim Woods, also lives in Ironton.

“I am very pleased to have an individual of his character, talents and experience to be part of the Ironton Port Authority and to strengthen our development,” Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship said when speaking of Woods.

Blankenship nominated Woods to the Ironton Port Authority at the Aug. 27 city council meeting where he earned unanimous approval.

“Paul has hit the ground running,” said fellow Ironton Port Authority member Bill Dickens. “He is truly a breath of fresh air.”

As for Woods, the return to Ironton brings a little twinkle to the eye of man determined not to let his hometown fail.

“There is nothing wrong with Ironton that ‘more’ won’t cure.”