Mayor: More labor positions needed

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 14, 2014

It takes people to get things accomplished. That’s what Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship on Thursday told city council about the plethora of requests he receives from residents and council members.

The topic was discussed after council member Dave Fraser asked Blankenship if yellow lines could be painted on Second Street beginning at Storms Creek to increase visibility, especially at night.

“There’s cars parked on both sides of the street and you can’t see the yellow lines,” Fraser said. “Can we not have yellow lines?”

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Blankenship said the sole issue is lack of labor.

“We can, but we have to find the time to do it to be honest,” Blankenship said. “In our street department we have one laborer and one truck driver position. That’s all we have in our street department.”

Blankenship proceeded to state his case for needing two labor positions in the street department.

“(Street department superintendent Mike Pemberton) is here today because I want him to tell you what he goes through on a daily basis,” he said. “When I’m telling him to paint those yellow lines and paint the curb up by the high school and do all these 15 other things, one person can’t do it. Two people can’t do it.”

Two additional positions, Blankenship said, would go a long way in completing the multitude of street-related requests he receives.

“What we are getting is people every day, day and night, seven days a week asking for us to do this and do that,” he said. “We would love to, I’m not putting them off, but I don’t have the people to do it. If council says we’ll fund these positions I got 300 resumes (in my office) and I can fill two positions. I think it will better our city and we can get more done. Paint this curb, and fix my ditch and patch these potholes, those are street department jobs. I had to transfer the water department guys (Wednesday) to help (Mike Pemberton) patch potholes. We need more labor positions, I’ll be totally honest with you, then we could get more done.”

There was no objection to Blankenship’s proposal from any member of council. Adding the positions, however, would require amending the operating budget, which requires approval by the majority of council.

Blankenship also told council he is addressing complaints about 18-wheelers on Ninth Street going to Liebert.

“It’s been a continuous problem and aggravation and concern for the citizens,” Blankenship said. “What I plan on doing is putting up signs to direct these trucks.” What we think is happening is drivers are using GPS and its sending them down there. If you’ve ever used GPS it sends you five different ways.”

To curb the issue Blankenship said signs would be erected at the State Route 141 exit and also by Liebert to direct truck traffic. Maps are being printed for passing out to drivers upon arrival so they will know the truck route. Ironton police, Blankenship said, have been instructed to issue citations.

“We want to educate the drivers best we can,” Blankenship said. “Liebert is aware and I want to let citizens know we are working diligently to correct this problem.”

Council member Craig Harvey mentioned that GPS systems probably don’t recognize Commerce Drive because it is a new road.

Blankenship said asbestos testing is complete on the building formerly known as the Fuzzy Duck. He said he received a call stating no asbestos was found and the city will send the report to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. After a 10-day waiting period the city can demolish the building.

Council member Aaron Bollinger again asked about construction at Elm Street going onto North Fifth Street.

“Now there’s no bulldozer but there’s an area blocked off with gravel everywhere,” he said. “Before going under the underpass coming from Second Street on Elm to North Fifth there are still no street signs that warn of construction ahead or anything. Nobody can see any type of construction, especially if they are not familiar with it, until they come under the train bridge and then all of sudden you’re right into it.”

Blankenship said he would look into it.

Council heard from Levy Safety Program Manager for the Corps of Engineers Steve Spagna about the city’s floodwall system

Resolution 14-34 authorizing the acceptance of the Ohio University Southern sewer at the school’s childhood development center in Hanging Rock was adopted.