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Lawrence Co. losing long-time economic chief

Lawrence County will lose an asset in economic development whenthe director of the county’s Community Development Associationleaves in a few days, officials said.

Paul King McLain III, president and chief executive officer ofthe Lawrence County CDA and the Chamber of Commerce in Monticello,said the move was “bittersweet.”

He will be moving to Harrison, Ark., approximately 30 milessouth of Branson, Mo., to marry Ruthie Louette Laws of Harrison,but McLain admits he will miss the county and the many friends hemade here.

“Ruthie and I have been friends for many years and we begandating this summer,” McLain said.

Laws is the executive director of the North Arkansas MedicalFoundation in Harrison. She writes grants, holds fund raisers andhandles public relations for hospitals there.

“So we have a lot of similar interests professionally,” McLainsaid, “and she is a wonderful lady.”

Wedding vows will be exchanged at a private family ceremony atMonticello Baptist Church on Nov. 9.

McLain said his last day in office is Nov. 7, and following ahoneymoon trip to New Orleans he will be moving to Arkansas inmid-November.

“She has a very nice home in Harrison, and I’ll be moving intoit,” he said.

McLain said he does not have a job in Arkansas yet.

“I’ve had one offer, but I’ve been praying about it and it maybe time for me to return to school,” he said.

It’s been a life-long dream of McLain’s to get a master’sdegree, and he tentatively plans to apply for one at the Universityof Arkansas.

“I’m leaning toward a degree in English, particularly inliterature,” he said. “The classics are fascinating. I may try toteach, or I may continue in economic development. I think (gettingthe degree) will round me out as a person.”

McLain said the University of Arkansas is rated in the top fiveschools nationally for creative writing and he may also “takeadvantage of that.”

In his absence, the county Board of Supervisors has named LCCDAclerk Karen Jolly Hill as interim director. Hill has a bachelor’sdegree in business administration from Mississippi College.

“She is very capable of running the office in my absence,”McLain said.

He said Hill will benefit from having a dedicated board ofsupervisors and a strong base of volunteers to rely on.

“I want to say a huge thank you to the elected officials andvolunteers,” he said. “They’re really the ones who made me lookgood. I’m positive with the hard work and support of those peoplethe good work will continue.”

It was not just the ones who made him “look good” that he wishedto thank, however.

“I would like to say thank you to the people of Lawrence Countyfor giving me seven and one half unforgettable years. It is iswonderful to be paid for doing something you love,” he said.

Although his present path leads him away from the county, McLainsaid he will “keep in touch” and life is an ever-winding lane.

“You never know where the road may lead so we may be back in thefuture,” he said. “We’ll certainly be back to visit.”

A send-off event is scheduled at the Lawrence County CivicCenter from 5-7 p.m. Monday for McLain, Hill said. She invited thepublic to come bid her former boss and friend a fond farewell.