Civic group has grand Ro-Na vision

Published 10:19 am Tuesday, August 7, 2012

It may sound somewhat cliché, but great things can only be accomplished by thinking big and reaching for the proverbial stars. That is what the Friends of Ironton is doing when it comes to revitalizing the Ro-Na Theater.

The grassroots civic organization has spent tens of thousands of dollars and countless volunteer hours trying to restore luster to a building that was once Ironton’s crown jewel.

And the building could be again.

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The building is starting to shine once more, although much work remains to be done. The Friends has a tremendous vision for the theater, one as grand as the facility was once.

Ultimately, the group hopes to renovate the building to be a multi-use facility that can host a variety of community events, many at the same time.

None of this would be possible without the Rally on the River motorcycle event that brings more than 100,000 people into town each year.

Although hosting an event of this size certainly creates some challenges and minor inconveniences for those who live here, the reality is it helps inject money into the community and helps the Friends raise funds for the Ro-Na and other projects.

A little extra traffic for three days is a small price to pay to have a one-time community anchor be returned to its former glory.

The Friends have taken a variety of steps to ensure that the rally goes smoothly and doesn’t negatively impact the community. These include adding more private security, tightening alcohol sales guidelines and working to keep the event more consolidated.

City officials have to do their part as well. Ironton leaders still haven’t addressed a vending ordinance that protects organizations that host public events and is still allowing private businesses to use public property to make a profit. These issues that have to be addressed moving forward.

Long after the visitors for the Rally on the River are gone, the positive impact on the Ro-Na Theater will remain.