PROFILE: Citizen of the Year 2010

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 28, 2010

To the casual observer, the annual Gus Macker basketball tournament and the Rally on the River motorcycle weekend may seem like effortless events that fall into place when groups of people all show up at the same time every year to have fun.

But to those behind the scenes, these annual festivals enjoyed by many require time, enormous planning and a lot of hard work on the part of a precious few.

And among those precious few each year is Jodi Rowe-Collins, a private citizen with a genuine heart for public service.

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A woman for all seasons

As president and chief operating officer of Ohio River Bank, Rowe-Collins would have good reason to go home and call it a day after putting in long hours at the office.

But she doesn’t.

When that work is done, the rest of her work begins. And she puts in more long hours, time most Lawrence Countians never see, but from which many reap big benefits.

The list of the Ironton resident’s community service activities reads like a telephone directory: She’s a member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Tri-State, the Huntington-Ironton Empowerment Zone, the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Board/Youth Council and the Ohio University Coordinating Council.

She is a board member and past president of the Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce.

Rowe-Collins is also one of the founding members and driving forces behind the Friends of Ironton, one of the premier community groups in the area that has accomplished a variety of things that include organizing the Gus Macker tournament each spring and Rally on the River each August.

Fellow FOI members consider her a true community servant.

“She’s a great asset to the community,” FOI President Rick Jansen said. “She is involved much more than what people know. She’s a fantastic asset to the community.”

Rowe-Collins is also a member of the Ironton Port Authority. Fellow member Bill Dickens has high praise for her dedication not only to that organization but the community as a whole.

“We’re so fortunate to have people like Jodi Rowe-Collins as a member of our community,” Dickens said. “I feel that very sincerely.”

Dickens said he has long been impressed by Rowe-Collins’ ability to do as much as she does.

That thought is seconded by Mayor Rich Blankenship.

“It’s a great asset to the city to have people like her who are willing to give their time to help the city,” Blankenship said. “She always does an outstanding job and is there when we need her.”

As for Rowe-Collins, she said she does it because she likes it.

“I get a lot of self satisfaction from volunteering and see others enjoy and profit from my efforts,” she said. “My overall favorite event is probably the Gus Macker because it is more of a family event and, as a very competitive person, I like to see the competition between individuals of all ages.”

An early start

For Rowe-Collins, her sense of commitment to her community came early in life and never faltered.

“I guess I really began volunteering my time to the community in the summer of 1978, after I graduated (so I guess it is well over 20 years), coaching a girls softball team which included the child I was babysitting for,” Rowe-Collins recalled.

Since then, she has become an ardent supporter of volunteerism and is more than willing to put her time and talent where her heart is.

And she is quick to encourage others to do the same.

“Without volunteers, our Tri-State would not reap the benefits of the economic impact that events like Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament, Rally on the River, Poage’s Landing Days, Rib Fest or Summer Motion promotes,” she said.

A little R&R

Although it may not seem like it, there are brief periods when Rowe-Collins isn’t working.

When she isn’t at the bank or at one of the community events, she is a doting aunt, keeping tabs on nieces and nephews and their ballgames and school activities.

And every once in a while, she and her husband, Ray Collins, get in some R&R of the two-wheeled variety. They are motorcycle enthusiasts. Their sets of wheels have taken them on trips near and far.

“Ray and I (went) to Sturgis, South Dakota in 2007,” she said. “We pulled the bike out in a trailer and rode once we arrived.”