BLUE EARTH - John Thompson got a surprise when he attended the annual meeting of the Minnesota Association of County Officers this month: He was named Treasurer of the Year.
Thompson has accumulated a number of titles during his tenure with Faribault County. He started working for the county in 1986 as a junior accountant, becoming auditor three years later when his predecessor retired.
"County coordinator" was added to his job description in 1996. Then in 2009, he received the additional roles of auditor/treasurer.
"I'm honored and humbled," he said, regarding the award from his fellow county treasurers. "There's a lot of worthwhile people that are part of that organization."
Thompson brought back a special souvenir from the treasurers' Jan. 15 meeting.
"I got a plaque to hang on the wall," he said. "The first thing I have to do is take it and show my mom. Then I'll probably hang it on the wall in my office."
County officers in all 87 counties vote. The nomination process goes to an executive committee, which decides if the person deserves it.
"There are others more deserving, but I'm not gonna send it back," Thompson said.
A number of people knew beforehand he'd won, including his wife, Charlene, who was dropping hints.
"She made me get a haircut," Thompson said. "I should've figured it out on that one. Lots of clues now that I think about it.
"I figured it out when the guy who introduced it was Don Kuhlman from Watonwan County, and he started to tell the story of when I first showed up on the scene back in the '80s."
Running the auditor/treasurer's office keeps Thompson busy. He's in charge of collecting property tax and distributing it to cities, schools and townships; keeping drainage system records; running the county license center and the chief accounting department in the county; and overseeing the central services and grounds and building departments.
"I have an excellent staff in all these departments," Thompson said. "They do the nuts and bolts work that makes my job easier."
Another of Thompson's jobs is clerking for county commissioners.
"That's always an interesting part of the job," he said.
"No idea I'd be here this long, but it's been a good time," he added.
Thompson didn't get far from home.
He grew up in East Chain, where he "picked up a lot of rocks on the farm" his dad owned in Pilot Grove Township.
He and Charlene have raised a daughter, Kelsey, who works in Sioux Falls.
"We've lived here now for 28 years. We definitely call it home," Thompson said.