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Mayor: City will do its best to enforce new ordinance

Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship said the city will do the best it can this weekend to enforce a newly adopted ordinance designed to regulate vendors during special events.

Ironton City Council passed the ordinance late last month after representatives from the Friends of Ironton asked the city for protection from vendors who set up in the city during the group’s events without paying the organization a fee.

Friends representatives argued that Rally on the River costs around $200,000 to put on and that all the money the organization makes it puts back into the community with projects like the city’s Splash Park and the restoration of the Ro-Na Theatre.

Rally on the River, which is planned for Thursday through Sunday, will be the city’s first special event since the law was passed. Rally is hosted by the Friends of Ironton.

“The thefts, domestic violence, vandalism, the car crashes and everything else that goes on in the city doesn’t stop (during Rally on the River),” Blankenship said. “So we have a certain amount of officers and we still have to deal with every issue.”

The ordinance states that during any special event authorized by the mayor, the authorized hosting organization for the event will set the fees for vendors. The vendor is to pay the fee to the hosting organization, according to the ordinance.

The rule defines special event as any pre-designated event that is determined by the mayor. A hosting organization is an organization authorized by the mayor to put on a special event.

What the ordinance does not outline, the mayor pointed out, is how the ordinance will be enforced. The ordinance also does not designate what the consequences will be for a vendor who sets up without paying the fee to the host organization.

“The ordinance is vague,” Blankenship said. “My current understanding is that (vendors who don’t pay a fee to the host organization) will be shut down. It’s the city’s job to enforce ordinances, but again we only have so many personnel.”

Because the ordinance states that the fees will be paid to the host organization, the police department will not collect money from vendors, Blankenship said.

“We want to do everything we can to make it a safe event and still provide the city with services that we’re obligated to,” the mayor said.

Blankenship said he wanted all the vendors to cooperate with the ordinance. If they don’t, the city will deal with it the best way it can, Blankenship said.

The Ironton police officers will be working over time this weekend, Chief Jim Carey said. Carey said most of his officers will work 16-hour shifts each night during the event. Carey told council last week that the department plans to have an overtime bill of around $9,000 that will have to be paid for from the city’s budget.

While the officers will be working, Carey said he has not received instructions about if and how to enforce the new law.

“I haven’t heard from anyone and the way I read it, it doesn’t say it’s the responsibility of the police department to enforce it,” Carey said.