Citizens should vote to support Ironton’s youth

Published 12:15 am Sunday, October 6, 2013

On Nov. 5, the citizens of Ironton will have the opportunity to go to the polls to decide whether to retain recreational parks and activities for the youth and families of our community.

Why is the recreation department vital to Ironton?

Besides it’s just sports. … So one would think.

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Did you know by providing an active recreation department, we are empowering our youth with positive attitudes, self-discipline and self-control. It also helps to build character and healthy bodies.

The youth is the future of Ironton. By instilling positive attributes in them at an early age, they are better equipped to handle life experiences as an adult.

What is this going to cost me as the taxpayer?

The recreation levy is nothing new. Every property owner within the Ironton city limits has been supporting this levy for many years. The city obtains approximately $80,000 in general property taxes to support the recreation levy.

We are asking to renew this same levy without any increases.

For example, if your house is valued at $100,000, the levy will cost you $50 a year. If your house is valued at $50,000, it will cost $25 per year. This equates to 5 cents for every $100 of your property’s value. This is a small price to pay to keep our parks clean and our young people active.

The recreation department consists of one full-time employee and one part-time seasonal employee. With the help of the summer youth program, we are provided extra summer help at no cost to the department.

What does the recreation department encompass?

Parks — The recreation director is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of Etna Street Park, Edna Kopacz Park, Molten’s Field, Eighth Street Pocket Park, Sherman Thompson Amphitheater and the downtown Friends Splash Park. In the near future, the riverfront boating facility will also fall under the recreation department.

Over the past several years, we have attempted to improve the overall look of our parks by adding new playground equipment.

The cost to replace basic equipment is very expensive and must meet insurance requirements. Public parks cannot be equipped with residential playground equipment. They must be equipped with commercial quality equipment and must be approved by our insurance carrier for liability issues.

Basketball — Our youth basketball program which covers grades kindergarten through sixth, provides positive sportsmanship and learning experiences to more than 250 youth each year. Organized sports promotes fitness, healthy habits and confidence. It also helps establish better social behaviors, hard work and persistence.

Cheerleading — Each season, the cheerleading program provides positive support to approximately 80 youth. Cheerleading offers young girls unique leadership qualities, communication skills, poise and crowd management.

As you can see, the recreation department not only offers fun games and fitness, it offers our youth the necessary leadership skills they will need as adults.

What is the future for the recreation department?

I would like to see additional funds be placed in the operations line-item for purchasing new equipment for the parks, replace deteriorated fencing, new benches, grills, etc., in order to enhance the look of our parks, not only for our citizens, but for visitors or those looking to move to the area.

With the new improvements to Lawrence Street Road, proper lighting and parking of the Molten’s Field area would accommodate a number of different recreation activities. Our parks and programs can and should benefit every resident. If the parks are presentable, one is more likely to utilize them.

I’ve been asked why other department employees do not help in maintaining our parks. Unfortunately, our current level of staffing in other departments are stretched thin. Because of the economic crisis in our area and across America, we have limited our staff just to keep from raising taxes.

Now is not the time to go backwards. We must remain positive as we provide our youth with the necessary tools to grow.

Please come out and support the youth and families of our community by renewing the Ironton Recreation Levy.


Rich Blankenship is mayor of Ironton. He can be reached at (740) 532-3833 or