LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Former Polk County Judge John Thompson was awarded the prestigious Silver Bucket Wednesday.
Thompson, a Houston native, received his bachelor of pharmacy degree at the University of Louisiana-Monroe. He moved his family to Livingston where he became a pharmacist, and within three short years, he became owner of the Livingston Drug Company. In 1983, Thompson was elected to the Livingston City Council and served as Mayor Pro-Tem from 1985 to 1990. In 1988 he changed careers, becoming the executive director of the Polk County Chamber of Commerce.
During his Chamber tenure, Thompson was instrumental in helping organize the successful bid for construction of a state prison unit, which created more than 800 permanent jobs and an annual payroll of more than $37 million. In 1991, he was elected county judge of Polk County, and this gave him even more opportunity to focus on the economic growth and development of the area.
As county judge, he led the efforts in 2004 to fund and construct the IAH Secure Adult Detention Facility which houses more than 1,000 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees. Since its opening, the facility has provided approximately $10 million of alternative revenue to the county through a contracted per diem fee. There is no cost to the citizens of Polk County. In fact, 250 Polk County residents are employed at the facility, which has a payroll of nearly $6 million dollars.
Thompson's desire to improve education in his community helped bring about the 2013 construction of the Angelina College Polk County Center. Funding for this non-tax based higher education center came solely from donations and grants. Thompson currently serves as chair of the Polk County Higher Education and Technology Foundation.
The award recognizes achievement for outstanding service in East Texas. The Silver Bucket Award is given to an East Texan who has worked hard to build a business while giving back to the community.
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