Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Health Department Official to Use Organizational Skills in New Role

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Health Department Official to Use Organizational Skills in New Role

Article excerpt

Years ago, Jim Thompson thought the government had "a lot of stupid rules" for monitoring businesses.

"I used to think that if I was in the government, I would change things," he said.

It is somehow fitting that Mr. Thompson is now on the other side of the coin. As the new deputy director of environmental health for the Health Department of Allegheny County, he works with companies to ensure the safety and preservation of the environment.

Mr. Thompson has been with the Health Department since 2003, most recently as the manager of the air quality program.

Growing up in the small town of Keyser, W.Va., Mr. Thompson, 55, said he saw the firsthand effects of pollution caused by business.

"Although I didn't know it at the time, Keyser was a very polluted city. We were downwind of a paper mill and the Potomac River ran orange back in the '60s and '70s," he said.

When Mr. Thompson was choosing a college major, he chose engineering.

"I liked math and science so I went into engineering and chemical engineering paid the most - so I chose it," he said.

After graduating with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from West Virginia University, he came to the Pittsburgh area in 1980 to work at U.S. Steel as an engineer. He now resides in Ohio Township with his wife, Sharon.

"I knew Pittsburgh because I had friends from college who grew up here and we would drive up for baseball games and other events," Mr. Thompson said.

Mr. Thompson's career path took him to Aristech, the chemical side of U.S. Steel, which then became its own company, he explained.

"I was the director of engineering and traveled around the country. When Sunoco bought the company in 2001, I had more and more work in Philly and then they moved," he said.

Since he didn't want to move to Philadelphia, Mr. Thompson looked around for a new job and found himself "on the other side" at the Health Department of Allegheny County.

"A lot of those rules suddenly made sense," he said. …

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