Community leader honored at luncheon

Published 10:11 am Friday, March 25, 2011

The man who has spent a career making things happen behind the scenes was put front and center by his colleagues and friends Thursday at this spring’s Leadership Tri-State luncheon.

The non-profit community education program honored Ralph Kline, assistant executive director at Ironton-Lawrence County CAO, as this year’s Community Service Award recipient.

At the CAO, Kline oversees housing, economic development, downtown and community revitalization and strategic planning for the city and county.

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His onetime boss, Keith Molihan, retired executive director of the local CAO, praised Kline for his intense work ethic.

“You don’t find that kind of dedication anymore,” Molihan said told the audience at the Ohio University Southern. “He knows how to put a deal together. He is a rare individual.”

Kline, who is an Ohio University graduate with a concentration in economics and rural development, joined the CAO in 1981. In 2003, he was promoted to assistant director over planning and development. Recently Kline was chosen the State of Ohio’s economic developer of the year.

“Nothing significant has happened as far as development, creation of job, almost anything you can think of that doesn’t have Ralph’s fingerprints on,” Molihan said.

Each year Leadership Tri-State honors an individual for his or her leadership qualities. Past honorees have been John Hall, former CEO for Ashland Inc., Marshall Reynolds, CEO of Champion Industries, Guy Spriggs of Eagle Distributing and Dr. Bill Dingus, director of the Lawrence Economic Development Corp.

Dingus was also there at the luncheon to salute Kline for his contributions.

“He goes so far beyond the daily work. Ralph loves every minute,” Dingus said. “He can put the magic twist on things. He will make things happen.”