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Catholic community to build Parish Life Center

Will contain gymnasium, meeting room and more

Construction on an Ironton Catholic community Parish Life Center is set to begin shortly at St. Joseph Catholic Church and high school in Ironton.

The center, which will be located between South Fourth and South Fifth streets across from the St. Joseph parish office, will house a lobby, a regulation sized basketball court and seating, a concession area, a weight room, a meeting room, restrooms, a kitchen and storage areas over two floors with a parking area.

It will not only serve St. Joseph, but also St. Lawrence O’Toole and St. Mary in Pine Grove, who are all part of the Ironton Catholic community.

“The handicap-accessible facility will have a large room near the main entrance that will accommodate 40-50 people for meetings, bereavement dinners, etc., and other parts of the parish center will be used for indoor sports, school variety shows, exercise, fundraisers and much more,” Father David Huffman, pastor of the Ironton Catholic community, wrote in a letter sent to parishioners earlier this month. “…For more than 90 years, many have received much benefit from a Catholic education here. Our schools have helped you and/or your loved ones get to where they are today.”

A letter written by four St. Joseph High School students, Joseph Bush, Bryson Canter, Ashley Bartram and Kaitlyn Sheridan, was also sent to alumni, stating the importance of the facility and asking for assistance in the project.

“In 1924, members of St. Lawrence and St. Joseph built St. Joseph High School. Ninety-three years later, St. Joseph High School still stands as a symbol of excellence and pride to our Ironton Catholic community. We are now planning to continue the mission of the founders of this school and this Catholic community,” the letter stated. “…We greatly need a larger space to hold our church and school functions. Our Catholic community of Ironton is long overdue for a space that can accommodate all of our needs.”

One of the biggest aspects of the Parish Life Center is the new gymnasium that will be housed inside.

“As students of St. Joseph High School, our sports teams desperately need a larger gym. The gym at St. Joseph can no longer hold our fan base. Secondly, the gym is not regulation size for our sports teams. Therefore, our boys basketball team currently plays at the Ironton High School Auxiliary gym, which only holds about 200 fans,” the students’ letter stated. “This gym does not meet the needs for both our home and away crowds. Our boys basketball team currently practices at the former Rock Hill Middle School, which serves as the Lawrence County Juvenile Center. Due to time restrictions at practice gyms, our practices are greatly diminished.”

The students also mentioned that the gym at the juvenile center does not have heating, causing the players to wear clothing that restricts movement or having multiple practices cancelled a year.

“Currently, our girls and junior high teams utilize the St. Joseph gym. However, the programs are hindered because of lack of seating and a non-regulation size court,” the letter states. “We were unable to join the Southern Ohio Conference because of all of these space/size issues.”

Along with the gymnasium, a weight room will be available as well, something Huffman said was important for the school’s teams to be able to compete at a high level.
Huffman said that the project total would cost $2.2 million, and will be completed my Mullins Construction Company.

“We’re trying to break ground on this next week after Easter,” Huffman said. “And hopefully we’ll have it finished by the start of basketball season or sometime early in the season in November or early December.”

As of April 10, nearly $700,000 has been raised for the project, with $1,022.418.25 pledged.

Anyone who would be willing to donate to the project can make checks out to Ironton Catholic Schools Building Fund, and send them to P.O. Box 499, Ironton, Ohio 45638, or for more information, call Huffman at 740-532-0712.