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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Natchez Characters - Tommy Polk 2009 Kisatchi-Delta Regional Grassroots Citizen of the Year

Kisatchie-Delta Regional Executive Director Heather Smoak Urena presenting 2009 Regional Grassroots Citizen award to Tommy Polk

Natchez/Vidalia resident Tommy Polk was honored with the 2009 Regional Grassroots Citizen Award at the annual Kisatchie-Delta Regional Planning & Development District banquet on July28 at the Main Street Community Center in Pineville, Louisiana.

This is the third year Kisatchie-Delta Regional has presented the Grassroots award, which is intended to recognize an individual outside of local government and/or the professional field of community and economic development for their contributions with the Kisatchie-Delta District.

Polk, a native of Concordia Parish, returned to the area in 2007 following a successful 20-year career as a songwriter in Nashville, Tennessee, and in the hospitality industry in Clarksdale, Mississippi. His Natchez guesthouse, Shantybellum, is an adjunct to his guesthouses in Clarksdale.

In addition, Mr. Polk has contributed his talents both in business and in music to assist in the revitalization of the music culture in Ferriday, Louisiana.
In 2008, Polk received funding from the Louisiana Lieutenant Governor’s office and the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism for the first annual Ferriday Songfest, which was held in October and was attended by songwriting hopefuls from Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

Mr.Polk was nominated for the award by Concordia Parish Economic Director Heather Malone with a letter of support by Vidalia Chamber of Commerce Director Jamie Burley.

“Tommy is always there with a willing hand as well as a smile on his face,” said Ms. Burley. “His kindness and generosity have affected not only me and my family, personally, but also the Kisatchie-Delta Region. It would be nice to have a few more Tommy Polks roaming Concordia Parish."

Kisatchie-Delta Regional Executive Director Heather Smoak Urena agreed: “ [Ms. Burley] specifically mentioned Tommy’s enthusiasm, originality, good-natured outlook, and willingness to go the extra mile to help both individuals and the community,” said Urena, “and we are pleased to join her in these accolades.”

The award came as a surprise to Mr. Polk, who said, “I’m very honored and deeply touched to have received such wonderful recognition.”

The Kisatchie-Delta Regional Planning & Development District, Inc. is a nonprofit, planning and development agency serving Avoyelles, Catahoula, Concordia, Grant, La Salle, Rapides, Vernon and Winn Parishes in Louisiana. The agency provides economic development assistance to the region in order to create and retain jobs and improve the quality of life in the area.

Story and Photo by Elodie Pritchartt


  1. Tommy, that is a much-deserved honor. I'm proud to know you. Wish we had a Tommy Polk here in Indianola. Congratulations!

  2. Congrats, Tommy. We sure miss you in Clarksdale. Clarksdale misses you, too. Our door is always open!

  3. Congratulations, Tommy. We are so fortunate to have you in our community.

  4. I appreciate all the kind comments folks. Y'all are too sweet. It is really nice being back in my home town area and finding fun and creative things to do. Whoda thunk it, acres of diamonds in my own backyard. Smiles. tommy polk