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Congressman talks with merchants in Ironton

IRONTON — U.S. Rep Charlie Wilson walked up and down the sidewalks of downtown Ironton Friday, stopping in stores and perusing merchandise.

But the Democratic Congressman wasn’t on a sight-seeing tour or shopping spree.

Wilson, who is up for re-election in the 6th District and will face Jim Brenner in the May primary, made a full-day of his visit to southern Ohio with earlier stops that included Ohio University Southern, a speaking engagement at the Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon and a roundtable discussion with the Ironton Port Authority.

“I have done this in other communities, Wilson said of his downtown tour. “They have said they are glad to have a Congressman stop in. I just like to see their business, see how they are doing and ask them if there is anything I can do for them.”

Wilson — who was joined by Ironton officials and several other Democrat hopefuls including Ron Hadsell, candidate for 89th District House of Representatives, and Justin Fallon, candidate for the 17th District State Senate — visited a variety of stores along Third Street.

“I just like to get a feel for Ironton. You can feel a little more when you get into town and talk to the merchants,” he said. “… I think that 60 to 80 percent of our new jobs are going to come from small business.”

Stops included Iron City Hardware, Twigs-N-Berries craft store, The Pale Horse vintage clothing store, and Thornton’s Custom Cabinets and Supply, among others.

Wilson, whose family business was furniture manufacturing, shared some stories, many of which small business owner Dennis Thornton could relate.

“I build and design most everything you see,” Thornton said. “It is a lot fun. I’m pretty much self-taught. I enjoy what I do.”

Although the national economy hasn’t fully recovered, Wilson said he is encouraged with the progress he sees in Ironton including ongoing work to develop the riverfront and restore the Ro-Na theater.

“I think there are some good things going on here. We just need them to come to fruition,” Wilson said. “We need to get this stuff going and we need to get it done now.”