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What is your Priority Number One?

Let’s play a game of fill in the blank.

Priority Number One: The biggest problem Ironton faces is ________________.

Take your time and think about Priority Number One — the most important thing that needs to be addressed.

Many are concerned with the fees attached to their water bills. Others are fed up with potholes on city streets.

My own personal hell is the stoplight traffic nightmare at Liberty Avenue and State Route 141.

Everyone is troubled by the lack of employment opportunities. And “good old boy” politics that long ago destroyed the trust most of us have in our policy makers.

These issues are aggravating, for sure, but they are not Priority Number One.

Priority Number One is the elephant in the corner. It is the issue that doesn’t get much press because mentioning it is about as comfortable as talking about a recently acquired highly-transmittable disease.

It’s not something you want to converse about in public if you want to establish a firm reputation.

But this disease needs serious attention because we are all carrying it around without thinking about its deadliness to our community.

Priority Number One is obvious to most: We have a major drug problem in Lawrence County, the governing seat of which is in Ironton.

A scantily funded police force and sheriff’s department is in charge of juggling, at any given time, 25 ping-pong balls, effectively with one arm.

We have an overcrowded jail, which means that officers often are forced to give law breakers a warning instead of handcuffs.

It doesn’t take a genius to crunch the numbers on this one.

Criminals are going to win.

If criminals are winning, businesses are going to set up shop elsewhere.

No businesses, no Ironton.

And it has happened little by little, like termites eating away at the foundation of your home, until you are forced to make repairs because the floor caved in.

Our floor is about to rot.

Our termites are flying around on Oxycontin and heroin … and many of them are carrying hand guns.

If we look at the big picture, do the bothers of potholes and water bills measure up to this?

Are we willing to look at this elephant, this socially transmitted disease via apathy, and decide it is time to do something about it?

One more question: Will any of us have the time to care about “exorbitant” fees if our children are hooked on pain pills and robbing convenience stores to get their fix?

We have to get rid of the roaches before the roaches get rid of us.

Priority Number One: ___________________.

What is our biggest problem?

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