Investing in Ro-Na will help Ironton grow

Published 10:59 pm Saturday, October 10, 2009

Regarding the article of Oct. 7 concerning the dinner theater fundraiser planned for the Ro-Na Theater Restoration Project and the concerns voiced by some through the Internet, this letter will attempt to provide some clarification and explanation.

It is encouraging that so many Irontonians read the article and took the time to respond.

First, the dinner theater. Planners realized that the event is likely to be very popular. There simply aren’t many opportunities for an entertaining “evening out” in Ironton these days. That is one reason the restoration group is working hard to create an arts and entertainment center.

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The only suitable location the group could find in Ironton is the rotunda at OU Southern and it has a capacity felt to be too small to host a large first-come, first-serve audience.

Accordingly, as a major purpose is to raise funds, a list of initial invitees was compiled consisting of business leaders and others felt to be able to make significant monetary contributions to the restoration project, if they could be stimulated by a sample showing of the entertainment planned for the future.

Letters were mailed to that list and the responses will determine how many additional seats will be available for sale for $25.

That number will be established well before the Nov. 13 event and information on how/where to sign up, on a first-come, first-serve basis, will be published in The Tribune.

The Restoration Committee greatly appreciates the support of all who have contributed their time, effort and funds in the past and certainly doesn’t want to disrespect or alienate them.

It is simply a problem of space in light of the fundraising goal. Depending upon the response to the dinner theater show, the committee may be encouraged to present additional shows, omitting the dinner, which could serve a larger audience and at a lower price.

Now, to the online comments:

1. As the city doesn’t print money, of course the source of all funds is taxpayers through local taxes, fees or rents, or from state or federal funds generated by taxes and fees paid by citizens here and elsewhere.

The choice of words in the article was likely an unfortunate product of the press of time and the need for brevity. Readers of The Tribune, aware of many previous constructively critical articles concerning administrative and management matters, should know The Tribune is the voice of the citizenry, not of any city administration, past or present.

2. As to the use of local public funds to seed the Ro-Na restoration project, many of us remember when downtown streets were crowded and parking space was scarce.

There was little need to cross the bridge to shop, as many goods and services were available locally at reasonable prices. That may never come again, but improvement can be accomplished and strenuous efforts are being made.

The restoration of the Ro-Na and establishment of a viable arts and entertainment center, along with other projects in the works downtown will increase traffic and encourage the establishment of other businesses to take advantage of that market.

It will also encourage traffic our way across the bridge to the advantage of local merchants, old and new. Roofing the RO-NA building with wide public participation will enable the city to qualify for several millions of dollars from Columbus, Washington D.C. and various foundations.

They will help us, if we show commitment to help ourselves. There is nothing wrong with Ironton that more revenue won’t fix. The use of the Mayor’s discretionary funds to help this is expected to pay manifold dividends in the future.

Every chief executive in any enterprise has discretionary funds to be used for emergent needs or opportunities. This is just such an opportunity.

If any reader has an ideas of how to spend about $100,000 dollars to bring a $2-4 million dollar investment into the city, we’d love to hear them.

Tax-deductible contributions to the “Ro-Na Restoration Project” may be sent to P.O. Box 704, Ironton OH 45638.

Paul Woods


Ironton Port Authority