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ODNR plans fix for Ora Richey landslide

Help is on the way for residents of Ora Richey Road who have been asking the City of Ironton for assistance fixing a landslide.

The City of Ironton recently received word that the Ohio Division of Natural Resources will be fixing the slip through its Abandoned Mine Lands program. ODNR has prioritized it as an emergency.

According to the ODNR website, an AML emergency is a hazard that occurs suddenly and is a threat to public health, safety or welfare. Abandoned underground or surface coalmines cause them.

Mayor Rich Blankenship received a letter from ODNR about the program last week, he told the Ironton City Council at its regular meeting Thursday evening.

The letter stated that because the landslide impacts the public at large, the department has plans to stabilize it, the mayor said.

“It’s in writing,” Blankenship said. “They’re going to design it, construct it and pay for it through that mine reclamation fund that we’ve talked about and talked about and finally got it through.

“Sometimes these things take a long time but you’ve got to write them letters telling them what this is doing, not only to a neighbors’ houses, but the danger it poses to the residents in that area.”

“That’s great news,” Councilman Kevin Waldo said.

Councilman Chuck O’Leary commended the mayor for efforts at getting the state involved in the fix.

“I’ve sat through a few years at different councils and we’ve kicked it around,” O’Leary said, adding that he was glad the problem will be resolved.

About two years ago, the city applied to have the landslide approved through the AML program but was denied, Blankenship told council.

“We went back and said, ‘Listen, this poses this threat to emergency services if that would slip, or their houses,’” he said. “So we just had to take a little bit different angle at it so it worked out.”

Ora Richey Road residents Phyllis and Bill Spanner attended Thursday’s meeting. Phyllis Spanner said they have been to at least three other council meetings to discuss the landslide.

“If it comes to reality, yes (I’ll be glad),” Phyllis Spanner said after the meeting about the AML program. “It’s very long overdue.”

In other business, the Ironton City Council also:

– Heard from Rick Jansen of the Friends of Ironton. Jansen has requested the council consider legislation that would protect the Friends from having independent vendors set up during the group’s events without being approved by the Friends. A joint meeting of the council’s public utilities committee and finance committee has been called for 6 p.m. Monday to discuss the issue as well as another.

– Heard from Ironton resident Donna Osborn who told the council she was concerned with rising utility bills due to infrastructure improvements.

Waldo explained that the utility bill has increased in the last few years due in part to the sewer-relining project.

The sewers were 100 years old and council felt like it had to be done, Waldo said. He added that council was not trying to harm residents by increasing costs.

Blankenship said later that besides scheduled increases enacted by the council, there are no plans to increase utility fees.

– Heard the second reading of an ordinance authorizing and directing the mayor to convey property to the State of Ohio. The property is around a bridge on Lawrence Street. Construction is planned for next year to elevate the bridge.

– Unanimously passed an ordinance authorizing and directing the mayor to execute a collective bargaining agreement between the city and the International Association of Firefighters.

– Unanimously passed an ordinance establishing rules and regulations for the City of Ironton regarding the disposal of material at the city garage and landfill.