Panola County Sheriff Lake is 2018 Panola Cowboy of the Year.
Panola County Sheriff Kevin Lake was born in Carthage, Texas to Maxie and Janice Lake of Gary. He grew up in Gary and graduated from Gary High School. Mr. Lake attended Panola College and graduated from Kilgore College Police Academy. After graduation from the Police Academy, he states, “My first and only full-time job is law enforcement in Panola County.” He has worked at the Panola Sheriff’s Office since he was 19 years old.
Sheriff Lake said that he worked through the ranks from jailer to patrol deputy, then served as Narcotics K-9 Officer for 10 years. After that, Mr. Lake served as Patrol before being elected to Constable for Panola precincts 1 and 4 in 2005. His next position came in 2013 when he was appointed as Sheriff, which position he still holds.
When asked how he decided on his career, Mr. Lake said that he always had a desire to be a fireman “and/or law enforcement since elementary school.” He took a job at the Sheriff’s Office as soon as he was old enough to work in the jail.
Sheriff Lake has been married to his wife, Melinda (Mason) Lake since 1994. They met in 1989 through a family member and were high school sweethearts despite not attending the same schools. The couple have a 20-year old son, Cody, and a 19-year old daughter, Kelsey. Son Cody is married to Macie Innerarity Lake, and they have a newborn daughter named Sadie Paige Lake. Sheriff Lake shared that, “Being a grandparent is just what the name says, it’s grand.”
Besides his busy job as Panola Sheriff, Kevin Lake likes to hunt, fish, and do just about anything that involves his family. He also enjoys managing 225 acres of leased property, under the direction of the Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist. He manages the land for hunting, wildlife habitat, and just enjoys monitoring the wildlife.
The Lake family also does old-time wild and farm animal processing as a “small, part-time operation.” Kevin Lake shared, “I enjoy the old-time method of salt-curing meat and sausage-making. We were open to the public for approximately five years, but the work load became too much with our other full-time jobs. We Now just process for family and close family friends.”
Sheriff Lake has been a member of the Gary Fire Department since 1987. He served various roles in the department, including Chief for a number of years. He is an active member and a Deacon of Eastside Baptist Church in Gary, where he also currently teaches the Adult Sunday School class. With his wife, Melinda, Kevin Lake served as youth director at Eastside Baptist Church for about 15 year. He volunteers with collecting items and supplies for the needy of the community in conjunction with various groups and organizations. Kevin stated, “My main goal in life is to spread the Gospel message of the Lord Jesus Christ through everything I do. He alone is worthy to be praised!”
During his ongoing tenure with the Sheriff’s Office, Kevin Lake has received awards of The Officer of the Year and the American Legion Texas Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. Other awards received include numerous one as K-9 Officer and three times National Top 10-ranked K-9 Team through the NNDDA (National Narcotics Detector Dog Association) competing with teams from throughout the United States. He also holds his Master Peace Officer Certification with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. But Kevin said, “My most valuable award is gaining the title of ‘Dad’ and ‘Granddad’ in this life.”