Chamber recognizes Kline as Person of the Year

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 29, 2007

When Ralph Kline accepted the 2007 Person of the Year Award at Thursday’s Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Banquet, he did so with a touch of emotion.

He had to pause when reflecting on George Patterson, the Lawrence County Commissioner who died in July. The award Kline was receiving was named in Patterson’s honor.

When Kline regained his composure, he talked about some of the work he did with Patterson, the longest serving commissioner in county history who was elected six times.

Email newsletter signup

“George would always accept a challenge,” said Kline, who was introduced by Commissioner Doug Malone and Patterson’s son, Mike. “I always saw things the same as George, as the glass (being) half full.”

Besides Kline, the Chamber also recognized Jodi Rowe-Collins as the Volunteer of the Year and the Liebert Corp. as the Business of the Year.

Kline is the assistant executive director of the Ironton Lawrence County Community Action Organization. He has twice been awarded the Ohio Governor’s Award for Excellence — first in 1991 for Outstanding Program Implementation and again in 1997 for Exemplary Home Investment Partnership.

Kline, who has been employed with the CAO since 1981, was also recognized in 1986 as the Southeast Ohio Regional Council Person of the Year and was named the SBA Small Business Advocate of the Year in 1985.

“I accept this award for a lot of people,” he said.

Rowe-Collins is the executive vice president and Chief Operating Officer of Ohio River Banks.

Her volunteer work in numerous organizations was lauded.

“I enjoy giving back to the community,” she said. “I appreciate the Chamber for recognizing me for what I do.”

Rowe-Collins’ activities include board involvement for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Tri-State, Empowerment Zone, Friends of Ironton, Ironton Port Authority, Leadership Tri-State, Ohio University Southern Coordinating Council, and the WIA/Youth Council.

She is also a bank representative for the Chamber of Commerce and Ironton In Bloom.

Liebert has been operating in Lawrence County since 2000 and employs more than 300.

Plant Manager Jerry Rowe accepted the award on Liebert’s behalf.

“Liebert is very happy to be a part of this community,” said Rowe, who is Rowe-Collins’ cousin. “We look forward to growing in the future.”

Liebert designs, manufactures and distributes systems that control temperature and humidity, condition power, and guard against outages in data centers and telecommunications facilities. The plant specializes in HVAC systems.

With operations in 150 countries, Liebert is an independent subsidiary of Emerson Network Power, of Columbus.

Outgoing Chamber of Commerce President Gordon Waters, the general manager of Armstrong Cable, was also recognized for his work and Mark Compston, a financial consultant for A.G. Edwards, was sworn in as the new president.

Tyler Walters of Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, Joe Jenkins of the Briggs Lawrence County Public Library and Stephanie Burcham of Ohio University Southern were also recognized as new officers.

Kline, Rowe-Collins, Rowe and Walters each received various proclamations. Ohio Sen. John A. Carey and State Rep. Clyde Evans were in attendance as were representatives for Gov. Ted Strickland, Sen. George Voinovich and Rep. Charlie Wilson.