Ironton continues to thrive

Published 10:42 am Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Friends of Ironton truly are our friends. Best friends! The group that brings us Rally on the River and Gus Macker, among multiple other financial blessings, has been restoring the Ro-Na for five years with a skeleton crew of core volunteers.

Last Saturday, several hundred people were rocked at the Ro-Na Theater by a phenomenal local band, Executive Chef. But this was much more than just an excellent concert. It was the culmination of many examples of people in our community giving freely of themselves to benefit us all.

Example No. 1: All day Saturday, Rick Jansen and Jeff Mowery were in and out of the building prepping for the concert. Then again, these gentlemen (along with five or six other dedicated souls) are in the Ro-Na making improvements nearly every day. How much are they paid for their demanding extracurricular efforts? Zilch.

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Example No. 2: At 9 a.m., Ironton aLive Executive Director Jon Ferguson and his 10-year-old son, Clay, joined Redgie Arden and a crew of workers from STAR Community Justice Center to dust, sweep, mop, set up chairs/tables and organize the Ro-Na ahead of the event. How much did these volunteers earn for giving up their Saturday to help the cause? Nada.

Example No. 3: Eight hours before the first patron appeared, Will Moore (son of Ben Moore, a WOWK reporter who is always willing to promote his home town) and Blake Roberts from Studimo Productions, owned by John Griffiths, began the arduous process of setting up and testing the sound equipment. How much did Griffiths charge the Friends for this commitment of time and equipment? Zero.

Example No. 4: Three hours prior to the concert, Mowery and his wife, Patty, along with Jansen, Cindy Haney, Suzie Albert and Jane Griffith – core members of The Friends of Ironton team – were busy setting up to serve the crowd. How much did each personally gain for their efforts…which lasted all night? Zip.

Example No. 5: An hour before showtime, Diane Porter, director of Harvest for the Hungry food pantry, set up inside the front door to promote her organization…an organization not unlike the Friends that diligently works in obscurity to assist the needy in our community. As patrons entered, many graciously offered financial support to the food pantry. Did Diane Porter add to her personal bank account via her hours of work outside of her real job? Nope.

Example No. 6: Executive Chef gave a performance worthy of special praise. Unless you were there, I can’t convey to you how awesome this band of local musicians performed.

They absolutely nailed every single song! How much did Tommy Woods, Jeff Leach, Bill Patrick, Kevin Kirtz, Eric McKnight and Ian Nuckols profit from their phenomenal gig? Nothing. But they were worth quadruple the cost of admission.

Surely, no more examples are necessary. Every person listed above selflessly donated his or her time and effort to pitch in to help the Friends rebuild the Ro-Na, which will eventually benefit all of us. The “pitch in” mindset appears to be growing in Ironton.

Many local citizens are getting fired up about our ability to band together as a unit and live up to our potential as a community. A lot of us, me included, are realizing we can make our hometown thrive if we simply decide to get involved. How awesome is that?

Sam Heighton is fond of saying, “Ironton – A very special place.” All day Saturday, I saw his words in action. We really are a great community.

If we all continue to help the Friends realize their vision of rebuilding the Ro-Na, we’ll also help local businesses when the process is complete. And bit by bit our downtown will begin to come back to life. It’s possible. All it takes is our investing in ourselves just as we did last weekend.

Ironton rocks.

Next up at the Ro-Na: Country music hall of famer Bobby Bare on May 25.


Billy Bruce is a freelance writer who lives in Pedro. He can be contacted at