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Couple’s service honored

Instilling the thought in the minds of each person that they have a stake in developing the region and to confront its problems is the ultimate goal of Leadership Tri-State. The group’s Community Service Award Luncheon this Thursday will honor two people who are the embodiment of that ideology.

Bob and Billie Smith are no strangers to community service.

Bob is a native of Huntington, W.Va., and has called Proctorville home since 1988. He is a graduate of Marshall University where he earned a degree in speech and journalism.

After college, Bob was drafted into the United States Army and later joined the Army Reserve, retiring as Lieutenant Colonel in 1988. Bob began his career in radio (WCMI in Ashland, Ky., and WVOW in Logan, W.Va.) then took a position with WHTN-TV, now known as WOWK-TV, where he served as staff announcer, weatherman, news reporter, news director, assignment editor and news anchor. In 1986 he moved to WSAZ-TV, co-anchoring the evening and nightly news.

Retiring from broadcasting in 1996, Bob later led a bicentennial fundraising campaign for Ohio University Southern, where he raised nearly $5 million for the campaign over six years.

In 2009 he was hired as Director of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce. During his four-year tenure Bob was instrumental in doubling the chamber’s membership and guiding the agency through several successful fundraising events. For the past nine years, Bob has been the commercial spokesperson for Advantage Toyota in Barboursville.

Bob is the recipient of the United States Army Meritorious Service Medal. He has been elected to the West Virginia Broadcasting/Radio Museum Hall of Fame and the Marshall University School of Journalism Hall of Fame. He is past president and current vice president of the Chesapeake, Proctorville, Rome Lions Club, past member of the Ironton Rotary Club and the East Lawrence Kiwanis Club. He was an original board member and volunteer for Faith in Action (at that time, Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers) and assisted the United Way in the development of a 2-1-1 system for Lawrence County. He is a Deacon at New Baptist Church in Huntington and sings in the choir. Bob is also a member of the Generations Quartet.

Billie Schneider Borland Smith is a native of Chesapeake. She received a bachelor of science degree from Ohio State University with dental hygiene as her major. After graduation she served as clinical instructor for the OSU School of Dental Hygiene. She has volunteered time to her children’s schools, counseling at a crisis pregnancy center as well as holding several positions within her church, all in Atlanta, Ga.

After marrying Bob 11 years ago, she co-founded Operation TLC, (Tidy-up Lawrence County) a litter awareness program in eastern Lawrence County. The volunteers cover eight-to-12 miles of roadway three times a year. Other projects include seasonal decorations in Chesapeake and Proctorville. The group also plants flowers and has erected street signs in Chesapeake and banners in Proctorville.

Many organizations and agencies have assisted Operation TLC financially since its inception including the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, which presented the group with the Project Impact Award in 2011; the Lawrence-Scioto Solid Waste District, which presented Billie with the 2011 Kudos for Caring award; the Chesapeake, Proctorville, Rome Lions Club; and VFW Post 6878. Billie was also the recipient of the Community Initiative Award presented by the KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission.

She is an active member of New Baptist Church serving as coordinator for the Women’s Bible Studies Ministry. She also serves as chair of the decorating committee and is a member of the Sanctuary Choir.

“Their prominence in the community and the things they’ve done in the Tri-State made it easy to give them our Community Service Award,” Sharon Walker, executive director of Leadership Tri-State, said. “When one reads their bio it’s easy to see why they deserve to be honored.”

Searching for common ties that inspire change and growth, Leadership Tri-State is dedicated to the development of community leaders who tap the energies and harness the resources of the region. Leadership Tri-State aims to fashion leaders who fill such needs and understand the differences and relationships in the area.

“There are fewer jobs and companies are moving out, but we are not in any worse shape than anywhere else,” Walker said. “What’s happening here is happening everywhere.”

Leadership Tri- State is a nonprofit community educational program created in 1989 to develop future leaders. Participants are selected from southern Ohio, eastern Kentucky and western West Virginia and each participant must be dedicated to participation in the program and have a record of community involvement. The intention is that by the end of the program graduates have developed a network of relationships with a cross-section of leaders and have deeper insights and a broader knowledge of issues in the Tri-State. Through their experiences they will offer new and informed perspectives to local communities and participate in a unified effort that will shape the region’s future.

Leadership Tri-State’s 2014 executive committee is comprised of Viviane Vallance, chair; Jodi Rowe-Collins, vice chair; Sara Ramezani, secretary; Heather Marrs, treasurer; Sharon Asbury, Beverly Baldridge, Chris Clarke, Tyson Compton, Sue Dowdy and Kevin Wall.

The Community Service Award lunch will be at noon on Thursday in the Mains Rotunda at Ohio University Southern.

For a factsheet, application or to nominate a candidate, please contact Walker at 740-523-0443; by fax at 740-523-0445; or by e-mail at leadershiptristate@gmail.com.