Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with William D. Gorman, May 2, 2000

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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BIRDWHISTELL: --turn on the recorder then.


BIRDWHISTELL: Well Mayor Gorman, uh, this is the uh, second interview in our series and uh--sponsored by the Kentucky League of Cities called, "Remembering City Hall--"

GORMAN: Uh-oh. (both laugh)

BIRDWHISTELL: And uh, as I told you last time you're the second mayor I've interviewed for this uh--this project. And last time we talked about your uh--your family's history here in Hazard and Perry County and your uh--your early life, education, and--and early career. This session, with uh--with your agreement I'd like to concentrate on your--your years as mayor, and your involvement in the civic and public affairs of Hazard and Perry County. I'd like to start off by uh, asking you how you came to be mayor of Hazard? (Gorman laughs) Tell me that story, please. (laughs)


GORMAN: Well, I (coughs)--well, I uh, I was divorced, and I was single, and I was having a good time in Florida. I went from Fort Lauderdale to Key West, to Daytona Beach, and to Tampa and--(laughs)--

BIRDWHISTELL: Not a bad life.

GORMAN: --having a good time with no problems and uh, I got a phone call and uh, Dr. Rutledge, and Dr. Williams, and Willie Dawahare, who was the previous mayor of the city of Hazard, and a few of them called me uh, down in Florida and asked me if I would run for mayor of Hazard. Well, uh, I sort of heehawed at the idea (Birdwhistell laughs) because Hazard was uh, at that time going through a lot of problems. The--the 00:02:00city, uh, I found out later, uh, owed five hundred fifty-five thousand dollars in current debts--


GORMAN: --um, and uh, so I came home and uh, I got on the phone. Uh we- -all of--we were losing 65 percent of the gas, natural gas, out of--out of our system, losing about half the water. And uh--I came home and I uh, went to Washington to see Carl Perkins. And uh, um, we talked to Carl, this was August probably--no, it was earlier than that. This was about uh, February--


GORMAN: Seventy-seven.

BIRDWHISTELL: February of '77?

GORMAN: Um-hm. And uh--so I went up there and told him--talked to him about--about Hazard.


GORMAN: And he said well, the uh, previous mayor, or the--at that time 00:03:00the current mayor, uh, didn't get along too well with the uh, people in Washington. He uh, felt that the--that uh--that uh--he was a Republican and of course, Carl was a Democrat. Well, at that time I owned a TV station--


GORMAN: --and um, 'course having grown up here, I uh--I thought well it probably might be a good idea to check everything out and (coughs) so anyway, I agreed to run for mayor. And uh, the--

BIRDWHISTELL: Was the uh, incumbent not running for reelection?

GORMAN: No, he--he b--he served eight years.




GORMAN: And uh, so uh, Bill uh, sort of helped me get--after he heard I was running for mayor he helped me get two opponents, so we'd be--have 00:04:00a primary and of course--

BIRDWHISTELL: What do you mean he helped to get two opponents? By--

GORMAN: (laughs) Well, he filed two other people.

BIRDWHISTELL: Because he didn't want you to be mayor?

GORMAN: Right.

BIRDWHISTELL: Okay. (laughs) Excuse me for being so dense. I'm n- -(laughs)

GORMAN: No, that's a--so anyway, we had the primary, and I won the primary and--

BIRDWHISTELL: What were the issues in that primary?

GORMAN: Well, the--personality--

BIRDWHISTELL: Besides (laughs) personalities would be the issue?

GORMAN: Probably, yeah. And--

BIRDWHISTELL: And you won?

GORMAN: --I won and then, uh, and then the November election came up and--

BIRDWHISTELL: So it was down to two of you in November, right?

GORMAN: Right. And uh, so I won in November and the uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: Did you win by a large majority?

GORMAN: I think fair.

BIRDWHISTELL: Substantial huh?

GORMAN: And uh, the uh--the funny thing that happened though was, I went back to Washington and uh, I talked to Carl again and I asked Carl, uh, would you give us some money or get us some money from EDA 00:05:00to fix our waterlines and our gas lines and all that kind of thing and he said, "Well, you ought to wait till January," said--"Uh, when you take office." I said, "No, we need to start right now." So, (coughs) the um, incumbent uh, I got him about, oh, a few million dollars, I've forgotten exactly how much and of course, we started to rebuild the waterlines and then the gas lines and the water plant--

BIRDWHISTELL: Did uh, Mayor Morton appreciate your help?

GORMAN: Oh uh, he didn't even know I got it--(both laugh) he--all he knew was that uh, Carl Perkins didn't speak to him, and he didn't speak to Carl Perkins and all of a sudden, the city of Hazard got these grants.

BIRDWHISTELL: I was gonna say, if you're mayor of a city in Eastern Kentucky and you are not on speaking terms with Carl Perkins that's a--you are already in the hole like.

GORMAN: Well, it--this happened for a number of years--



GORMAN: --and uh--


GORMAN: --and of course, (coughs) so anyway, January the first I took office and I had a quick audit (coughs) and I found out the city owned five hundred and fifty-five thousand dollars current debts. The previous mayor cut off the credit to the city is--uh, at that time, the only lumber company in Hazard which was Home Lumber Company--


GORMAN: --and (coughs) so we went to buy a two by four, we had to pay for it.


GORMAN: And--cash. (both laugh) And we didn't have any cash.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well as--as they say, you were worse than broke, you owed people money.

GORMAN: Well, (laughs) we--we not--not only owed people, but (coughs) uh, uh, when they ran that quick audit, they didn't uh, mention the fact that uh, we owed a gas bill. In fact, I didn't even know that we owed a gas bill and that we owed (coughs) Kentucky West Virginia Gas Company a hundred and ninety-four thousand dollars.

BIRDWHISTELL: Oh, goodness gracious.

GORMAN: So, uh, we um--the vice president, Mr. Roberts, called me up 00:07:00one day and he said, "I'll give you thirty days, and then I'm gonna come with my own wrench and cut off the gas to the city of Hazard if you don't pay us."

BIRDWHISTELL: Oh, goodness.

GORMAN: So (coughs) anyway, I went--called a meeting and, uh--I called the two banks, and at that time my brother L.D. was president of the People's Bank--


GORMAN: --and uh, Mr. Al--uh, Alcorn was vice president of the Citizens Bank and uh, we had the meeting, and well, Mr. Alcorn says, "Well, we've always lent the city a third, because the People's Bank is twice as big as we are, and uh, we'll lend the city a third." I said, "Okay." Well, L. D. had hired a fellow fro--from Lexington, and this fellow said, "I have reviewed the city's financial position, and we will not 00:08:00lend the city one penny." (Birdwhistell laughs) So--so I took my gavel, I slammed it down and I said, "Becky, call L.D. and tell him the wrong son of a bitch came to the meeting." (both laugh) And so any--anyway he got my brother L.D. on the phone, and I told him what this bird had said, and uh, so (both laugh) anyway, L.D. says, "Oh, don't worry, we'll lend some money," and so--

BIRDWHISTELL: Did L.D. want you to be mayor? Was he in favor of you coming back to be mayor?

GORMAN: Well I don't know. Uh, my family wasn't too excited about the idea. (Birdwhistell laughs) The reas--the last person who'd been mayor of Hazard in our family--I had an uncle that was mayor--

BIRDWHISTELL: Who was it--let's see--

GORMAN: Will Perceval and my grandfather was mayor, Lee Daniel, which is uh, back--

BIRDWHISTELL: Nineteen nineteen, nineteen twenty

GORMAN: Right.

BIRDWHISTELL: And Perceval was--


GORMAN: And I don't--I don't rem--he was right along that--about the same time.


GORMAN: But (coughs) anyway--uh, and of course, a cousin of mine, Jim Baker, had been mayor in the fifties, I think--

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Okay, '54 to '57.

GORMAN: And uh, so uh, anyway the uh--I went down to the bank and raised some cane and uh, so they gave the fellow that says that he wouldn't lend the city of Hazard any money. He was vice president of the bank. (Birdwhistell laughs) They gave him um, two weeks to clean out his desk.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs) Don't try to explain it to him, just l--tell him to go, huh?

GORMAN: Well, I--I didn't have to. Uh, he found out that if he wasn't gonna be a part of Hazard--


GORMAN: --then we didn't need him in Hazard.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. That's interesting.

GORMAN: But anyway, things rolled along and uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: Were you worried when you got those loans, whether or not 00:10:00you'd be able to repay them? I mean was that a concern at that point?

GORMAN: Well, uh, not really and the reason they--they weren't, was because I have faith in government. And if you have the ability to tax people and collect the taxes, then you--you can do what needs to be done.


GORMAN: Uh, the uh--after a while--about a month, six weeks later I found out we owed the Kentucky Western Je--Virginia Gas Company a hundred and ninety-four thousand dollars. So (coughs) anyway, uh yeah we went through that--


GORMAN: --but what I was gonna tell you is--the answer to that is--I thought was the answer to the federal debt. What we did in Hazard, we put a surcharge on the sale of gas, uh about one eighth, um, and that 00:11:00surcharge was collected in addition to the usual gas bill, and in a year's time we paid off the hundred and ninety-four thousand dollars.


GORMAN: And it worked and uh, I didn't have one single complaint.


GORMAN: But the uh--anyway, things moved along and a little after that, city hall burned down.

BIRDWHISTELL: I see, yeah, the--uh, that was in --eighty--'81, I got here.

GORMAN: That's--that's when we--

BIRDWHISTELL: That's when you built this one?

GORMAN: --we--we built this one, started about 1979.

BIRDWHISTELL: Okay. What happened on that fire? Did you ever find out what caused it?

GORMAN: Well, it was just an old building and it--was probably the wiring and--

BIRDWHISTELL: Where was it located in relation to where we are here--

GORMAN: Up on High Street, which is next to the Dollar Store.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Oh, okay. Okay.


BIRDWHISTELL: Did you lose a lot of city records?

GORMAN: No, we didn't lose any.


GORMAN: And uh, Willie Dawahare just uh, built the building up where 00:12:00Dawahare's is and um, uh--and they had empted a building down here on Main Street, so--so the fire lasted--uh, oh, it was about one-thirty, two o'clock and so I sent up to Willie's house and got the key to that building--


GORMAN: --and uh, we just moved city hall into Willie's building down there, and Willie says, "I get a thousand dollars a month for that building." And I said, "Willie, we're gonna pay you three hundred. The city's broke." (laughs)

BIRDWHISTELL: And we appreciate--we appreciate your support. (laughs)

GORMAN: And Willie never said anything about it. And so uh--'cause he loved Hazard, you know, and--

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Yeah. Can I--can I ask you--in terms of uh, the type of government you have here in Hazard, uh, you have a--a mayor with a city manager and commissioners--

GORMAN: And--and four commissioners.

BIRDWHISTELL: And four commissioners.


BIRDWHISTELL: Now--just for the people who--who don't understand 00:13:00necessarily how city government works in this class city, um, what are in general the mayor's authority and the mayor's responsibility in a--in a city government of this type?

GORMAN: Well, you have what they call a strong uh, city manager type of government or--or you have a strong mayor type of government. Uh, in Florida, for instance, um, I have a home close to Leesburg, about eight miles out and uh, they have a city manager form of government and they elect the commissioners--elect the commissioners and every year uh, they rotate the mayor's office--

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm. Between--among those commissioners?

GORMAN: And what happens, you've got--you have about as much progress as the North Fork of--of the Kentucky River running uphill (Birdwhistell laughs) because the--you have no leadership.

BIRDWHISTELL: And no continuity?

GORMAN: No--no continuity whatsoever. And uh, so we have a strong city 00:14:00manager form of government, and I like to think I am a strong mayor kind of government and uh, the uh--we--the--uh, for instance, the present city government, the mayor doesn't take a salary and neither of the commissioners take a salary.

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that right?

GORMAN: In other words, we all work as volunteers and uh--and we work hard. And uh, the uh--down through the years as I've been mayor, uh, on an occasional we've had maybe one commissioner take the salary, um, but that's twenty-five dollars a month. Now, the mayor in a third class city can make about fifty thousand dollars a year. Uh, the city commissioners can make about what the magistrates make. Well, in Perry County they make about twenty-one thousand dollars a year. So uh, we--we feel that we save about a hundred and fifty thousand dollars a 00:15:00year, because not only do--do we take--not take a salary; we have no perks. Uh, we have a--in the city government, the city of Hazard, we have a pension plan for our people, and we have uh, health insurance for them and of course, we don't pay the biggest in the world, but they have uh, uh, pretty good perks, and they're cared for. And uh--um--but um, different people have a differ--ideas about how a government should run, but uh, the--the greatest experience I've ever had in my life, uh, Terry, is the last twenty-three years, is being mayor of the city of Hazard--

BIRDWHISTELL: Being mayor, yeah.

GORMAN: --because we built everything you could--(laughs)--you could see.

BIRDWHISTELL: I'm telling you--I'm telling you. When you came in, was there a strong city manager in place when you came in?

GORMAN: Well, (coughs) I don't think uh, the um--the city of Hazard is 00:16:00a--a completely different place. Um, the city manager took one look at me and he resigned quickly.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs) Why--and why would he--why would he do that, Mayor?

GORMAN: Well, the--the first place, I think that what you've got to do is you've got to have an image in your community, and I think that's the most important thing that you can have, and you've got to show leadership, and you've got to show that you've got enough business sense to run the city.

BIRDWHISTELL: To make it work. Um-hm--

GORMAN: Well, for instance, the budget the city has is about a million dollars a year, in 1977. In nineteen--well, the year 2000, counting our projects and everything, it'll go well over twenty million dollars 00:17:00a year--


GORMAN: --and this for a city of fifty-four hundred people.


GORMAN: And--but uh, um, I believe this, I think the mayor's office--I don't get involved in running the utilities. I don't get involved in uh, trying to run the police department or the fire department. In the last two years my fire chief was--for instance, two years ago, was president of the Kentucky Fire Chief Association. This year my police chief is uh, president of the Kentucky um, Chief of Police Association. And uh, uh, I believe one thing, this--uh, the best principle of government is to hire the smartest people and the best people that you can, and put them in charge, and then get out of the way.


GORMAN: Then you take credit for everything they do right. (both laugh) But--but uh, anyway, it's--uh, this philosophy has fairly well worked 00:18:00for me in s--in government. Of course, it worked for me in business before I became--

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, yeah--

GORMAN: --mayor, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: --you--you had some success--

GORMAN: Well--

BIRDWHISTELL: --before you were mayor. Did--did you have a hard time replacing the city manager? Was it fairly--

GORMAN: I went back in the back of ol--old city hall, and I talked to a young fellow by the name of Paul Feller. And he was recreational director and he had uh--was--helped with the taxes and this kind of thing, and I found out he--he was an ex-school teacher, and he managed a Holiday Inn, and uh, he'd had certain business experiences, but he'd just gone to work for the--the city, you know, as recreation director. And I went--went back to talk to him and I said, uh, "Paul, how would you like to be city manager?" He said, "I wouldn't." (Birdwhistell 00:19:00laughs) Then I said, "Well," uh, and I called the mayor pro-tem up and I said, "I'm appointing Paul Feller as city manager." He said, "I'm against it." I said, "Well, uh, give him a three month trial." And- -and I talked him into letting him uh, work for three months as city manager. It's never come up since.

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that right?

GORMAN: His three months is not up yet, (Birdwhistell laughs) and--and he was here when I came, and he's been there for twenty-three years and uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: That's interesting.

GORMAN: --uh, he's been offered jobs in ver--larger cities than Hazard for twice the salary that we would--we paid him and--but he grew up in Hazard, he loves Hazard, and he works for Hazard.

BIRDWHISTELL: So you early on got a good member of your team?

GORMAN: Well, uh, the--that's right and the--of course, um, uh, I always assumed, Terry, that uh, everybody is on our team, and we're on 00:20:00everybody else's team.


GORMAN: And uh, the philosophy is uh, to have a government-private business partnership; a city government-state government partnership; a city government-federal government partnership; and uh, that way if you have problems, everybody works together. Uh, one of the uh, things an--one time I was asked to run--run for governor by Ronald Reagan and a fellow by the name of John Sherman Cooper.

BIRDWHISTELL: I've heard of him.

GORMAN: --and he was a United State senator and Senator Laxhalt called me from the White House, "Have a meeting--"


GORMAN: It's the year that Martha Layne Collins ran.


GORMAN: And I told him, I said, "Well, I can't run against Martha Layne 00:21:00Collins." Well, they said, "Why? You can beat her." I said--that year I was president of the Kentucky League of Cities--

BIRDWHISTELL: That's right.

GORMAN: And uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: Nineteen-eighty-three.

GORMAN: --and uh--and uh, they said, "Why can't you run against Martha Layne Collins?" I said, "She's married to my cousin, Bill Collins." (Birdwhistell laughs) And of course, you've heard about Bill's problems and--and uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: And he's your cousin?

GORMAN: He's my cousin and I--and I think Bill was uh--he had a business partner and his uh--business partner was director of finance for the state of Kentucky after Martha Layne was elected, and he tried to rip off the city of Hazard, uh, before he would sign uh--a--uh deed which he had to sign--

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that right?

GORMAN: --and um, Martha Layne had to sign it. And so, I think Bill Collins got a bad rap--


GORMAN: --because Bill Collins was a dentist. He didn't even know 00:22:00what's going on. But (coughs) this other fellow did. But--

BIRDWHISTELL: So they wanted you to run for governor?

GORMAN: Yeah, that's--that was their idea, you know, and--

BIRDWHISTELL: You would've probably enjoyed doing that--

GORMAN: Well, no I--I really, Terry, uh, I have--um, I've never had political aspirations, you know. In fact, uh, I--I never even thought about running for mayor until a bunch of these wild Indians talked me into--they filed me, you know. (Birdwhistell laughs) But um, anyway, it's a--I--I thought it was right nice of them to ask me--


GORMAN: --and uh--and uh--but Lorraine Cooper got awfully upset with me because I wouldn't--wouldn't run but--

BIRDWHISTELL: I guess uh--talking about this mayor, city manager, police chief, uh, I guess you watch with some interest what goes on in Miami 00:23:00the last couple of--the last few days.

GORMAN: Well--

BIRDWHISTELL: I mean that's a good time not to be mayor of Miami, isn't it?

GORMAN: Well, the thing about it is this is--uh, I see by the polls that the federal government did the right thing, but if you would poll Nazi Germany before uh, the Second World War, (laughs) you'd have the same thing. And you know, I--I was a--in the television business twenty- five years--


GORMAN: --broadcast--


GORMAN: --and I'm still in the cable business and uh, the uh--if we wanted to take a poll--what--uh, whatever the poll was, and of course, NB--we were with NBC, they'd--they'd call us and they--they'd take a poll--


GORMAN: --well, if--if--if we felt one way about it, well, we would poll the people that felt the same way we did, (Birdwhistell laughs) and if we felt another way about it, (laughs) we would poll the other 00:24:00community. So the--the biggest joke in this country, and you can take it from an ex-broadcaster, are the polls--and you know, they say they polled 613 people. (Birdwhistell laughs) Well, uh, most of these organizations, back in the old days and I suppose they still do it, uh, they've got a list of people that they poll. They don't--they don't do a poll across the country. They--they take the 613 people they polled last week, or the week before, or the month before, and they poll those same people because they've got their phone numbers and a lot of them have got--automatic uh, voting uh, responses, you know.


GORMAN: And uh, so anytime you hear somebody who has taken a poll, you-- you take it from me, polls are just as crooked as the mafia was.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs) Um, you put a--a surcharge on the gas bills to 00:25:00pay that 190 some odd--

GORMAN: Hundred and ninety-four thousand.

BIRDWHISTELL: Nine--hundred and ninety-four thousand. What about your tax base in relation to the half million debt you inherited?

GORMAN: Well, uh, when I was elected mayor the ta--tax base in the city was 51.5 cents per hundred. Today the tax, uh, is 29.1.


GORMAN: And the whole idea is every--going back to my business background, uh, everything you do in government, if you have a service, let that service pay for itself plus, you know, we own the water company, we own the gas company, we own the sewer company, and all 00:26:00this, of course. Uh, and we've got a public improvement corporation and various things, but usually what we try to do is anything that will stand on its own feet, we'd like for it to stand on its own feet, yet make a contribution over, above to the city government and it works.

BIRDWHISTELL: For those things that can't generate revenue?

GORMAN: Right, in other words, your fire department, your police department, uh, the pavilion up here that we built. It's uh, probably the outstanding sports recreation uh, place this--I--I--I've not seen anything like it anywhere in the country--

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah, it's nice.

GORMAN: --and it uh--have you seen it, Terry?

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah, Charlie took me around the other--last time, it's uh, impressive.

GORMAN: Oh, but anyway we built that for a million three hundred thousand dollars.


GORMAN: And uh, uh, when we uh, built it, uh, we blackmailed the people 00:27:00that did business for the city of Hazard like--like my brother (both laugh) we beat him out of a hundred thousand dollars. Uh, uh, one of the coal companies we got, well, we've got fifty thousand from one, eighty thousand from another one, but anyway it's pretty much paid for by--


GORMAN: --by blackmailing uh, the people that--that--only a friendly approach, you know--

BIRDWHISTELL: Sure, I understand.

GORMAN: --so we didn't--we didn't--we couldn't twist their arms--

BIRDWHISTELL: No threats, just persuasion.

GORMAN: Just tell him we needed help.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. The uh, uh--Hazard was--Hazard and Perry County generally were hit hard by the c--decline in coal--

GORMAN: Right.

BIRDWHISTELL: --and--and--and when exactly--is there a time when that bottomed out? Is there a year or a period when--when it hit the bottom and then started--

GORMAN: Well Terry, when I was very young, I worked for Harvey Coal Company.


GORMAN: And I worked for Carr's Fork Coal Company, and uh, I was, what 00:28:00they called back in those days, a payroll clerk. Of course, I--I started out in the insurance business. Uh, when I got out of school--I went--worked for a year for the State Insurance Department. Then I spent three years with Lloyd's of London and I was traveling all over the country, and I wasn't too happy, because every time you wanted to do something, uh, they'd be some kind of catastrophe or--


GORMAN: --they'd send you to Canada or Mexico or--or wherever, and I decided I wanted to come home, and I was making, oh, close to a thousand dollars a month.


GORMAN: They furnished me a big car, and five room suite of offices, and two secretaries, and all that kind of thing.


GORMAN: And uh, I decided that wasn't for me, so I came home and took a job making 110 dollars a month. And I--of course, I didn't have a car or anything, but I--uh, when I came home I uh, worked on the night 00:29:00shift for this coal company. Well, I worked for the People's Bank, which our family owned at that time and Hazard Insurance Agency and uh, then I did accounting work on the side, and all that kind of thing.


GORMAN: And uh, uh, time I got through I worked about twenty-four hours a day, but I--I made more than a thousand dollars a month. (both laugh) But my prime job paid me 110 dollars a month and uh--but um, anyway, the um--uh--all that experience, you know, helps you, uh, move ahead and all this kind of thing--


GORMAN: --and finally I uh, I worked for Harvey Coal Company five years on the night shift and then I went to work for Carr's Fork for two years. And uh, my uncle called me one day and uh, our family along with some other people, to put in the cable system in the city of Hazard. This was 1949--



GORMAN: --and uh, you people in Lexington--when--when did you get your cable?

BIRDWHISTELL: Sometime in the eighties.

GORMAN: Oh, (laughs) we had ours in '49 here.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's interesting.

GORMAN: And uh, the--the same company still operates it. And uh--but the uh--um, so my uncle was Dewey Daniel and he was president of People's Bank, and uh, he was a--a chairman of the Republican Party during the Eisenhower years, eight years, and he--vice president of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and--and I traveled with him a lot and I met a lot of people and he always said, "What you need to know is, you need to know who your preacher is and who the politicians are." (Birdwhistell laughs) And of course, uh, when I--um, all of our lives we've uh--we've been in the people business so to speak--


GORMAN: --and so um, uh, we just moved along after him--he was--there's 00:31:00his picture right over there.


GORMAN: And (coughs) --


GORMAN: --but a very smart man.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Yeah. I was wondering in the uh--in terms of that coal decline, did that come right at the time--or just before you were mayor or after?

GORMAN: Oh, this--this--the first time that we really had the recession in the coal industry after the Second World War was 1948--


GORMAN: --and I was in the coal industry at that time--

BIRDWHISTELL: You were there, huh?

GORMAN: --and uh, that was the time that Harry Truman, I think, sent in the Navy to run the coal mines. Now--now, you talk about an intelligent move. (Birdwhistell laughs) This young Navy lieutenant came out to the company and uh, he walked in and--the night--he came while I was on the night shift and he says, "They told me to take over 00:32:00this company." I said, "Well, come on in." (Birdwhistell laughs) And about that time I closed my books, he says, "Where are you going?" I said, "You want--" I said, "You've got a lot of ac--accounting to get caught up with if you're gonna run this company." (Birdwhistell laughs) But anyway, it worked out, you know--


GORMAN: --and it was sort of a--a--but it was when they were having the problems with UMW--


GORMAN: --and all this kind of thing, but uh--but during that time, in '48, um, I realized that what we need to do is, to have diversification of our industry and diversification of Eastern Kentucky. And uh, so uh, I came back, you know, and I went to work for Uncle Dewey, and we started working to build uh Bu--Buckhorn Dam and--


GORMAN: --and I was the president of that association and--

BIRDWHISTELL: Took a--you went down on the--on a houseboat all the way 00:33:00to Frankfort?

GORMAN: Oh, we went to the--went three times, one--once to Louisville and twice to Frankfort.

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that right?

GORMAN: And it I wasn't a houseboat, it was an airboat.


GORMAN: Oh, yes. It had a sixty-five horsepower, uh, uh, like homing aircraft engine.


GORMAN: And of course, we had an outboard bes--uh, plus that uh, because as we went down the river, uh, uh, we had to take it out and put in, take it out and put it in a lot of times.

BIRDWHISTELL: I--yeah, I wondered--it looked like a houseboat and I wondered how you got off with that.

GORMAN: We built that thing.

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that right? (both laugh)

GORMAN: It--(coughs)--we were in the Jaycees and what we were gonna do is, we were gonna build a boat four feet wide--now, we--we got some plans from somebody somewhere, I don't know whether it was from Florida or--or where, but it's gonna be four feet wide and sixteen feet long. (Birdwhistell laughs) Well, every time we'd have a Jaycee meeting, somebody else said, "We want to go." So it ended up being thirty-six 00:34:00feet long and eight feet wide (Birdwhistell laughs) with the same engine. And the way we got the engine, Terry, is--uh, uh, we had this fellow that uh, was the flyer, and um, he uh, got a fellow by the name of Ed Clements in the backseat while he was flying the plane. Well, uh, he--they went over on First Creek and they--about the time that they hit a certain place, the motor stopped, and the--the plane started down. Well, Ed, a little ol' fellow weights about a hundred pounds right now and he's still alive, and very wealthy man, Ed saw they were gonna crash, well, he jumped out of the airplane; (Birdwhistell laughs) broke both legs.

BIRDWHISTELL: Oh, no! (laughs)

GORMAN: But the fellow that was flying the plane got killed.

BIRDWHISTELL: Oh, goodness.

GORMAN: And so uh, we--we kept looking for some way to pro--propel this 00:35:00boat down the river and we finally came up with the idea of an airboat. Well we found out, little Miss Arlou owned what was left of the plane, (coughs) but the motor wasn't damaged that much and uh, so I talked to her and she says, "Oh, go ahead and get it," said--I said, "What do you want for it?" She said, "Oh, twenty-five dollars." (Birdwhistell laughs) So we paid twenty-five dollars for the airplane engine and the--and the prop costs a hundred fifty dollars, uh, that we had to buy. But we built that thing and we went down the river and uh--in it, but we made--the first trip we went, we had three boats and uh--and we went down to see--to Frankfort to try to get him to help us promote Buckhorn and Buckhorn State Park, and uh, we got to uh, uh, Frankfort 00:36:00and everybody was dirty and nasty, and there was a whole delegation of people. Gene Baker, uh, one of the mayors, uh, brought about forty people to Hazard and we were gonna have uh, dinner with the governor. And uh, well, um, about that time--uh, our governor was from um, Anchorage--what was his name? I can't--

BIRDWHISTELL: Lawrence Wetherby.

GORMAN: Lawrence Wetherby was governor and so uh, somebody invited Happy Chandler, (Birdwhistell laughs) and Lawrence Wetherby and Happy Chandler didn't get along, as you well remember.

BIRDWHISTELL: No, they didn't.

GORMAN: So uh, Lawrence Wetherby came to the door and he saw Happy Chandler in there with all these people from Hazard, and he turned around and left. (both laugh) And--and the pictures out here on the wall, uh, you can see Lawrence Wetherby and Happy Chandler wou--at 00:37:00the uh, uh, groundbreaking of Buckhorn Dam and uh, uh, and when Lawrence Wetherby saw Happy Chandler on the stage, he was mad again. (Birdwhistell laughs) But uh--but anyway, Happy was--had some friends here and--and of course, he was running for governor and he--


GORMAN: --he won the next time, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Yeah, he almost ran in uh--against Wetherby. Um, because of the up and down in the coal economy, uh, the--Hazard lost population at uh--


BIRDWHISTELL: --over a period of time.

GORMAN: Well, what--what happened, Terry, was where we had a, uh, what they call the hand-loading, manual labor coal industry, uh, about nine--in--in the late forties, they invented these mechanical loaders 00:38:00and mechanical loaders, for instance, uh, instead of--when I went to work for the Harvey Coal Company, they would load two thousand tons a day, and uh, they had five hundred fifty people. Well, they brought in, is what they call the joy loaders and the joy loaders would load, uh, probably four to six hundred tons with about eight men, and so what happened with the mechanization of the coal industry, is when we started losing people here--


GORMAN: --but uh, during that period of time nobody ever thought about diversification or anything like that and the idea of--uh, we had to build Buckhorn was tourism and so um, we got--we got the Buckhorn project off the ground, and I think we got the first money in '53, and had the groundbreaking in '56 and--


GORMAN: --the building and of course, uh, um, here co--came Bert Combs 00:39:00and uh, we met with him and--

BIRDWHISTELL: You were in charge of uh--you were like the governor's representative to twenty counties during his administration.

GORMAN: Yeah. Right.

BIRDWHISTELL: And so you were very involved in all of these civic and public policy issues?

GORMAN: We--well, primarily just uh, working for him. I was a Jaycee--


GORMAN: --and I was a volunteer.

BIRDWHISTELL: For the community?



GORMAN: --so we'd do a lot of things and work with a lot of people. Um, but uh--old Ned Breathitt brought something in here the other day, I wish I could find--about 1956--or was it before that, but what it was, is John Whisman--


GORMAN: --who was on the um, Appalachian Regional Commission--



GORMAN: --well, what--we started out--John was president of the Jaycees, Kentucky Jaycees, and we organized the East Kentucky Development Committee--


GORMAN: --and uh, the East Kentucky Development Committee ended up with the East Kentucky Development Corporation, that was uh--started out on--whether it was Wetherby or Bert Combs or who it was. And uh, from that when Bert Combs became governor, they went ahead and they organized through John Sherman Cooper and senator from West Virginia, the Appalachian Regional Commission--

BIRDWHISTELL: Jennings Randolph

GORMAN: Jennings Randolph, and the--the thing about it, the whole idea started here in Hazard, Kentucky.

BIRDWHISTELL: How about that?

GORMAN: John Whisman lived on Faulkner Avenue, and I lived on Sun Valley Terrace--

BIRDWHISTELL: How about that?

GORMAN: --and uh, a bunch of us got together and uh, pretty w--much uh, put the seed and of course, uh, the funny thing about it, we talked to 00:41:00Bert Combs about uh, the Mountain Parkway, and uh so anyway, when Bert got the nomination of the Democratic Party, we talked to Bert Combs and we talked to Mr. Henry Spalding here. And the engineers in Kentucky, um, various ones of them, went ahead and started the plans to build the Mountain Parkway, um, and the Mountain Parkway, the idea came from a meeting we had in Prestonsburg and um, the--with one leg going to Pikeville and the other leg going all the way to, really to Whitesburg.


GORMAN: And um--and of course, the--to be divided at Campton.


GORMAN: --and we do it on a--a Kentucky map that--that was--had--was a 00:42:00placemat that had the map of Kentucky on it.

BIRDWHISTELL: Like those old restaurant free maps.

GORMAN: Yeah. And--

BIRDWHISTELL: I wish I had a--had that. (Gorman laughs) That would be a wonderful item to have, wouldn't it?

GORMAN: So, but anyway we--we sat down and talked to Bert Combs and we talked him into doing that--


GORMAN: --and uh, talked to various people about the--doing the engineering. And--

[Pause in recording.]

BIRDWHISTELL: Are you--are you disappointed that the four lane or the limited access part never really got to Hazard, that you still have a fifty mile stretch that's--

GORMAN: Well, uh, I think before Paul Patton goes out, we'll see it.


GORMAN: Uh, I think this--I think, for instance, um, where the Mountain Parkway and of course, uh, my greatest hope is Interstate 66. I think that one road will do more for poverty in Appalachia than--than anything you can do, but--

BIRDWHISTELL: It's gotten tied up into a lot of issues though, hasn't 00:43:00it? I doubt--

GORMAN: No--not--not--no, not really--

BIRDWHISTELL: It's just--those are just--

GORMAN: It--hey, Terry, I've been around a long time, (Birdwhistell laughs) uh, as long as Hal Rogers is in the Congress of the United States, (coughs) they'll be progress made on Interstate 66. It doesn't make any difference he--if he has to go through the gates of hell--

BIRDWHISTELL: There you go.

GORMAN: --because he's--he's c--that committed to it.

BIRDWHISTELL: And that would go just right north of town, wouldn't it?

GORMAN: It goes right--

BIRDWHISTELL: Or right through town?

GORMAN: --practically through town, at the edge of town, um-hm.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Yeah. Let me ask you this, when--now we're gonna come back to a lot of these--[Telephone Rings]


[Pause in recording.]

BIRDWHISTELL: Tell me about the uh, relationship between the city and county government at the time you became mayor.

GORMAN: Well, the c--the time I became mayor, the relationship was such that uh, they were breaking ground for a new shopping center out here and the county judge wanted to fight it, because I was asked to participate.


GORMAN: But um, anyway, uh, our relationships down through the years 00:44:00have been very good, very cooperative. I had a little problem, the county judge wanting to move--the pres--the current county judge wanting to move the jail outside of the city limits, and uh--we had a little squabble over that, but we're getting ready to build a new justice center. In fact, we have something like seventy million dollars worth of new projects on the table, uh, that--

BIRDWHISTELL: And the justice center is going to go where this uh, Baker building is now?

GORMAN: Um-hm, the Baker building, and the radio station, and um, the uh--there's an insurance agency, that whole block through there and--

BIRDWHISTELL: That will be razed and then there will be a new building?

GORMAN: Yeah, that's right. Eight and a half million dollars.

BIRDWHISTELL: How many county judges have you worked with since the time you've been mayor?

GORMAN: This is the fourth one.

BIRDWHISTELL: So you trained four of them?

GORMAN: (laughs) I don't know whether I've trained them, (both laugh) 00:45:00but there's--there's a lot of them that are hard to--hard to--they-- they don't know how to sit and lay. (laughs)

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs) But uh--but you've worked hard to--in--in a situation like this where the city government and the county government, it's--it's essential that it works together, isn't it?

GORMAN: The--the city of Hazard has extended water to over half of the county, and so--well, you know, governments should be compatible.


GORMAN: If you're gonna have progress, you've got to have compatible governments, and uh, we've uh, worked toward that and uh, uh, we seek out some plums out there and uh, tell what we can do for them. And uh, uh, we don't really benefit from it as much as the county does--

BIRDWHISTELL: That's right.

GORMAN: --but these people are our neighbors, and we want to do what we can for them.

BIRDWHISTELL: In the John Ed Pierce article in the Courier-Journal, 00:46:00which featured uh, a story on Hazard and Perry County, uh, he said that uh, as in all cities it seems like, annexation was a big issue and that there'd been some bitter battles in Hazard over annexation.

GORMAN: I don't know about that. This hasn't happened during my administration.

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that right? So it was prior to your administration--

GORMAN: We--we have doubled the city of Hazard--


GORMAN: --and we've only annexed two people. We--we went to uh, new ground.

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that right?

GORMAN: Uh--uh, we--and we have--since I've been mayor we have not annexed a single area where there's been any conflict.

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that right? So that had to be then before 1978?

GORMAN: Uh, I don't--I don't know when that would've been.


GORMAN: And uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: So your--your issues of annexation, it's just where new areas are developed, the city goes out and--and annexes that--


GORMAN: Well, for instance, we're getting ready to annex a section out on the uh, um, Highway 80. Uh, we--uh, we have already--the last annex-- annexation we did, we annexed the area where the veterans' nursing home is going to be. It's uh--uh, about a sixteen million dollar project, and uh, uh, we annexed that area, and um--and of course, we've--we've annexed halfway to Jackson, (laughs) going in that direction, but--

BIRDWHISTELL: Now is that because you're following development or anticipating development?

GORMAN: Well, uh--we have been asked to annex it.


GORMAN: Because the city of Hazard has a pretty uh, firm reputation for good government, um, law enforcement, a good fire department, good uh, um--plus the fact the utilities is always kind of--if it's not in the city limits, you don't have to give them the utilities. So uh, as far 00:48:00as the public is concerned, uh, if--if we want to annex them and they don't want to be annexed, well, that's all right. They just don't get any water, and they don't get any sewer, and they don't get any gas. So, (coughs) we--we're not using the hammer on them, we're just uh--


GORMAN: --uh, that's a firm policy that we have.

BIRDWHISTELL: Where do the people that live on the edge of the city limits get their water even--?

GORMAN: The city of Hazard.

BIRDWHISTELL: If--if they're not living in the city though, if they're out on their own?

GORMAN: Oh, we--we--we've water extended thirty miles to uh--to uh, Buckhorn Kentucky.

BIRDWHISTELL: So you are providing water.

GORMAN: Oh, yes. And we're--we're--we have uh--last night we had a commission meeting and we're getting ready to--uh, we're working on uh, fourteen hundred and fifty new customers that we have t--who don't have water, and what we're gonna expand the--the water plant, uh, four million dollars in order to do--uh, double it from the two and a half 00:49:00million gallons a day to five million gallons a day--


GORMAN: --and so uh, uh, let--w--you know, it's a--these people have this great need, abandoned mine lands gives us a lot of money to expand our water system, because it's--uh, after the mining is done, a lot of the uh, water in the area is uh, depleted.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm. Is there--is there an argument to be made in a--in a place like Hazard, Perry County for a--a merged government like in Lexington?

GORMAN: It doesn't work in Lexington. Why would it work in Hazard? (both laugh) And they're talking about the same thing in Louisville, all your doing is you're asking for trouble. The bigger the government you have, is the more trouble that you have.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs) That Louisville merger doesn't have a chance--

GORMAN: Well, the thing about it is this, is they've got--a--a good friend of mine is the mayor of Anchorage, um, and he's been president 00:50:00of Kentucky League of Cities--

BIRDWHISTELL: Mayor Hoge. Um-hm.

GORMAN: --(laughs) Peyton Hoge, and I got to thinking, well, Peyton has been mayor of Anchorage ever since George Washington was president, (both laugh) and--but uh, uh, I--I don't know how they feel in Louisville, but uh, uh, all the little cities down there were created for a purpose--


GORMAN: --to keep from being part of Louisville.


GORMAN: And uh, here Dave Armstrong and his boys, uh, they think they're gonna have a successful annexation? I don't think so.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Yeah. Let--let--okay, let me ask you--let me ask you another question about the issues that face you as mayor in the city of Hazard in regard to police, fire, sanitary sewers, uh, storm sewers, um, all types of public works, roads, do you find in your experience as mayor here and in your work with the League of Cities and 00:51:00other mayors across the state, that the issues you face here are--are the same or generally similar to the cities across the state?

GORMAN: Well, I hate to say this, Terry, but Hazard is so progressive, that we are--um, and I'm not saying this in a bragging form--

BIRDWHISTELL: I understand.

GORMAN: --we're way out there.


GORMAN: In other words, we got--we just spent seven and a half million dollars on a new uh, wastewater treatment plant. Um, we've--we're- -we've rebuilt the water plant since I've been mayor three times and we're getting ready to build the fourth time. Uh, as far as the uh--just, for instance, the um, uh, industrial park is ten miles out of town. We're running a dedicated sewer line from that industrial park back to our sewer plant. That's gon--cost a million and a half 00:52:00dollars. Of course, somebody's paying for it, but--

BIRDWHISTELL: Now, that industrial park is not in the city?

GORMAN: No, it's ten miles out.

BIRDWHISTELL: Ten miles out.

GORMAN: It's uh--and of course, the airport out there. We just completed a new million dollar improvement to the airport. We've got a five thousand foot runway out there, and is Wendell H. Ford Airport, and uh, we're going for another two thousand feet, so we--

BIRDWHISTELL: He said he was really disappointed he didn't get that two thousand feet.

GORMAN: Well, he--we--he's gonna get it. (Birdwhistell laughs) We- -we're gonna--uh, we're gonna dedicate the--this airport probably to Wendell in the next month.


GORMAN: Yeah. The--

BIRDWHISTELL: I might drive down for that.

GORMAN: --we're blacktopping the uh, road up to it this week, and that's the only thing that's held us up, uh from uh, getting the uh, new terminal occupied--


GORMAN: --and so we're--I've notified the people in the old terminal that they had to the new one yesterday.


GORMAN: And uh, so uh--but anyway, Wendell did us a beautiful job there, 00:53:00and of course, the industrial park is just across the road from it. And of course, Trust Joist MacMillan is right across the road from it, and the new Sikes uh, plant, um, will employ about five hundred people, and it's being--we're gonna dedicate it on--uh, cut the ribbon on uh, May the twelfth.

BIRDWHISTELL: But that type of development ten miles out of the city limits is good for Hazard, right?

GORMAN: Any time that any person goes to work in Eastern Kentucky, it's good for all of Eastern Kentucky, and it's good for all of Kentucky.

BIRDWHISTELL: It's good for everybody.

GORMAN: It's good for everybody. And uh--so we've--we've been very uh, encouraged--or we've encouraged this kind of development. If you go out there at the industrial park and look up on the hill, you'll see a mi--two million-gallon water tank that belongs to the city of Hazard.

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that right?

GORMAN: Ten miles out.



GORMAN: And uh--but uh that's--that's our philosophy.

BIRDWHISTELL: We talked about the city hall burning down, your temporary quarters, and building this city hall. I read that when--when uh- -when you were left without a permanent city hall, that you went to Washington and got the funding for this building and that Hazard did not--the--the citizens of Hazard did not have to pay for this building, is that--is that correct?

GORMAN: They--they didn't for one penny, except our insurance money.

BIRDWHISTELL: Not one penny? How did y--

GORMAN: They--they had a hundred thousand dollars insurance.

BIRDWHISTELL: So how did you--

GORMAN: Let--let me tell you a story. (laughs)

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs) Okay. Tell me--tell a story. I like stories.

GORMAN: (coughs) Well, uh--had a congressman by the name of Carl Perkins, and of course, all my families are Republican, and uh, here--every time a Republican or a Democrat either one comes through Hazard, uh, I usually me--meet him and uh, I usually, uh, help him with the campaign.



GORMAN: Well, I got this yesterday from the Republican Party: re-- registration tracking form. Now, two years ago I was--or three years ago, I was named one of the outstanding Republicans in the Fifth Congressional District--


GORMAN: --and the Republicans gave me a plaque. (Birdwhistell laughs) Well, the Republican Party registration tracking form that I'm holding in my hand now says, "William D. Gorman, box whatever, congressional district Fifth, voter ID: party affiliation unconfirmed. (Birdwhistell laughs) Now I want you to look at that and see if that's what it says.

BIRDWHISTELL: You're unconfirmed, Mayor.

GORMAN: Well, wha--what it amounts to is, I believe that, you know, that in an area such as ours, that what you have to do you have to be bipartisan and--

BIRDWHISTELL: You need to go through confirmation.

GORMAN: Oh, well I--(both laugh)--but anyway, what I was gonna tell you, 00:56:00the--this Carl Perkins thing called that to my attention. Uh, I went to see Carl and we went--I said, "Carl the city hall burned down, need some help." And I had a city commissioner by the name of Fat Lyndon, who was a big Democrat. And of course, I owned a TV station, you know, and uh, Carl would come to town and every time he'd come to town, I put him on television and of course, Wendell or--


GORMAN: --D. Huddleston or--


GORMAN: --or Mitch McConnell, whoever it was, you know, and so uh, you know, you make friends that way. (laughs) So, anyway, I went up there and we got a--a hold of D. Huddleston and Carl and uh, and--and I said, "Now, we need a million dollars for a city hall." And he--he says um, "Well," said, "We need to go see EDA." So we all piled in a cab, and uh, Fat weighted 350 pounds, and uh, I looked around, and uh, D. Huddleston 00:57:00was sitting on Fat's lap, because there (Birdwhistell laughs) was about six of us in this cab. And uh, we went down to EDA and--

BIRDWHISTELL: And what is EDA, the--

GORMAN: Economic Development Administration.


GORMAN: So anyway, we went in and uh--and Carl said, "Now, this fella's named Robert Hall." So, we went in, and I pulled my coat back, and I said, "Hey, Mr. Hall, I'm still wearing my Robert Hall suit." (Birdwhistell laughs) And of course, it--it wasn't, but anyway we sat down, and he said--uh, I asked--I said, "Carl, we need a million dollars." And uh, uh, Mr. Hall says, "Well we--we can't give you a million dollars." And so um, uh, Carl pointed to D. Huddleston, and he says, "Now D. you're on the Appropriation Committee, get these boys some more money. In the meantime, you give the mayor a million 00:58:00dollars." They wouldn't give us a million dollars. They gave us nine hundred and sixty-four thousand. (both laugh)

BIRDWHISTELL: So you didn't get your million? (laughs)

GORMAN: So any--any--anyway, after coming back and we had everything just about finished here, and--uh, but we needed a hundred and ninety thousand dollars more, maybe a hundred and ninety-four thousand. So I went back to Carl, and D., and--this delegation from Hazard, and we went in. And of course, uh, by that time. Ro--Robert Hall wasn't too happy 'cause we came back. He says, "We don't have any money." And so uh, anyway, he--he says, "Well, what do you need?" I said, "We need three hundred and eighty thousand dollars." And he shook his head a minute and uh, D. sort of--you know, giving him that, and Carl pushing 00:59:00for us and--and finally Robert Hall says, "Well, we can't give you three hundred and eighty thousand, but we'll give you a hundred and ninety." (both laugh) But--but any--anyway, so we got a hundred and ninety thousand dollars. We came back and we finished city hall.

BIRDWHISTELL: It's uh--it's such a nice building, and uh, it says something about the city government of Hazard, it seems to me. It makes a statement. I mean buildings do make a statement, and I assume that's what you intended?

GORMAN: Well, well, the--the--you know, I grew up in the banking business, and I always felt, when I was traveling across the country where I went, if you went into a dirty bank, you usually knew that it was a--the community wasn't doing too well.


GORMAN: If you went into a nice bank, a clean bank, an attractive bank-- of course, if you--if you've seen of the things my brother has built uh, 01:00:00as banks, he don't agree with my philosophy. (both laugh) But anyway, so--I'm talking about some of his branches--

BIRDWHISTELL: I understand. GORMAN: --but uh, uh--I just feel that the image is very, very important for the city and for its citizens. Now, this--this building we're getting ready to build in the background here, uh, um, this--we call it the Hal Rogers Center. Now, that building was designed by a young architect here in Hazard by the name of Dan Rowe, and my wife who's an artist and who's um, uh, got a lot of taste and talent--

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm. GORMAN: Uh, she worked with the architect and the engineers, in order to come up with this design. And uh--(coughs)--but we--we believe in trying to do beautiful things. One fifteen today I'm going to meet with Chenault Woodford, uh, along with the county judge with the--(coughs) for the new um, Justice Center down on Main Street, 01:01:00and uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm. What kind of design is that going to be? Have you all gotten that planned?

GORMAN: It's gonna be just like city hall, if I have my way. (laughs)

BIRDWHISTELL: Classic--is that a classical design?

GORMAN: Yeah, sort of classical, uh, but--but I like something like this. It's--

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. That's beautiful what you're showing over there and--and I re--I know the last time I was here, when I first came to interview you, and I--and I saw city hall and I said, "Well, this is-- you know, you just don't see this type of uh, setup."

GORMAN: My wife--uh, the original design for city hall looked like a cheese box on a raft (Birdwhistell laughs) and uh, we threw the uh, plans back to the architect and told him what we wanted.


GORMAN: And--but what he--what they--what they do, uh, Terry, is these architects have all these plans already drawn, that they stole from somebody else just like the jail out here--


GORMAN: --you see the picture of the--of the Perry County jail, the new 01:02:00Perry County jail is gonna cost 5.4 million dollars. It looks like a garage. (Birdwhistell laughs) You know, it (coughs) --just because, uh, you're building something, it ought to be attractive. It--it ought--it ought to do something for the environment, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: I--I agree. I agree.

GORMAN: But that's just wild thoughts.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs) Let me ask you about the uh--the role of public housing in Hazard, and during your administration you built the Allie Gorman Tower--

GORMAN: Right.

BIRDWHISTELL: --and the Gorman Hollow Housing Complex.

GORMAN: Right.

BIRDWHISTELL: Are those the two major public housing initiatives?

GORMAN: Well, we have uh, Liberty Street--or Liberty Village--

BIRDWHISTELL: Liberty Village.

GORMAN: --and we have Highland Heights at Walkertown. We have seven hundred and--almost eight hundred people living in public housing in Hazard.

BIRDWHISTELL: So that's an important issue for Hazard?

GORMAN: Um, yes, of course. I--and the problem that we have, (coughs) we have a--uh, we have two high rises for the elderly here. I forgot 01:03:00about the other one, but we've got a 110--about 110 units for the elderly, and um--but we got a lot of older people, you know, and uh, we try to take care of all of them. We probably got more than eight hundred now. I don't know what it is. Hazard's got ten thousand people working in it, and only fifty-four hundred people live here.

BIRDWHISTELL: Hmm, that much. Um, what would these people do if--if you hadn't done this public housing initiatives? Would--what would--

GORMAN: Well--

BIRDWHISTELL: --what would be the alternatives be?

GORMAN: Well, not only do we have the public housing, we have had private companies that have come in, in Gorman Hollow over here. The- -they've built about maybe two hundred fifty apartments. It's low--on moderate income.

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm. GORMAN: Uh, I suppose the Farmers' Home Administration or somebody--

BIRDWHISTELL: Um-hm. So your subsi--in addition to just--you have subsidized housing of different types. Um-hm.

GORMAN: Yes. Um-hm. The main thing is this, have decent places for people to live. And uh, if a person can't afford a decent place, built 01:04:00them one.


GORMAN: (laughs) Get the government to lend you the money.

BIRDWHISTELL: There are a lot of stereotypes that go into public housing--

GORMAN: We have them all. (laughs)

BIRDWHISTELL: And you--you have them all. Um, so uh, generally, has the public housing initiatives--have the public housing initiatives here in Hazard worked well for the city?

GORMAN: I think so. Uh, it's um--um, you know, the--you can--if you're--if you're poor you can't afford something and you need help, I think government should--should do that. And uh--uh, I think public housing in this country has been abused to a--to a large extent because of the ghetto system, all this kind of thing, but basically we don't 01:05:00have very much problems with it. Um, when I was first elected mayor, I was--I was chairman of the board that governs the hospital and uh, I, of course, as mayor I was the head of--more or less, titular head of public housing, and I had more problems with the hospital and public housing than I had with the city. (laughs)

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that right?

GORMAN: But--but uh, you get good management, and you get good people, and--and it takes care of itself, you know. Of course, the hospital here is phenomenal here, you know.

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, that's my next question, Mayor, about the--the growth of Hazard as a health care center. How--give me sort of uh, uh, an overview of how that has developed?

GORMAN: Well uh, I attribute a large part of it to a fellow by the name of Bob Johnson who died last year, who was president of A--ARH--


GORMAN: --Appalachian Regional Hospitals. Uh, he came to see me and 01:06:00he was talking about building a new hospital. And uh, so um, anyway, uh, we--we had a lawsuit or whatever you call it with those people out there, uh, uh--because of cer--cer--certificate of need. And uh, they had stronger politics than--than we had, and so they moved it five miles out of town, so to speak.


GORMAN: Well, the only thing is this, being the cunning kind of fellow that I am (Birdwhistell laughs) after they got all--they're sitting in the court laughing at me, I said, "Where you gonna get your drinking water?" I said, "What--where are you gonna get your sewer? Where you gonna get your gas?" And (coughs) so they looked around, and the next thing I knew, they wanted to be annexed. (Birdwhistell laughs) So uh, uh--we've--we borrowed--well, we went to the Appalachian 01:07:00Regional Commission and we got two and a half million dollar grant, or uh, really it's a two million dollar grant, but we had to put up five hundred thousand dollars in order to get the two million dollar grant. So I called the hospital and I said, "You lend me five hundred thousand dollars, I'll give you two million for utilities." And uh, so (coughs) this uh, private partnership and government works.


GORMAN: So they lent me five hundred thousand dollars, and I gave them the utilities back ten years, uh, gave them the five hundred thousand back over a ten year period of time, uh, fifty thousand dollars a year in utilities.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's a nice deal.

GORMAN: And uh, the only thing is they ended up with two and a half million dollars uh, to support the hospital and uh, they--they didn't have one penny when they got through. BIRDWHISTELL: Wow.


BIRDWHISTELL: Why did they want to move outside the city to begin with?

GORMAN: Well, a fellow gave them a sixteen acre tract of land out there, and we had this tract across the river where the TV station is, and uh, 01:08:00uh, the best thing that ever happened in the city of Hazard, was for them--to move out there.

BIRDWHISTELL: And then you tak--and you annexed?

GORMAN: Yeah. We do--everything out there is annexed. If--if it's a decent building, it's in Hazard.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs) That's how I can tell where the city line is. That's great Mayor. But this has been a--a major uh, impact on Hazard and Perry County to have these health care facilities.

GORMAN: Hazard--do you know how many doctors there are in Hazard?

BIRDWHISTELL: Charlie told me on the tour the other day and it was an unbelievable number.

GORMAN: A hundred and twenty.

BIRDWHISTELL: A hundred and twenty.

GORMAN: Now--now, let's see if I can find uh--I've got an invitation just yesterday from the UK Center for Rural Health, and the UK Center for Rural Health has nineteen doctors working there--and 120 at the 01:09:00hospital. Now, we're in the process--the UK Center for Rural Health is in the uh, process of building a 11.5 million dollar building next to the hospital out there. My brother uh, L.D. gave a million dollars to the--to the university in order to help in the transition, and we're, of course, hoping eventually that ARH will move its--all of its offices to Hazard, and we think they will.

BIRDWHISTELL: Is that not--that's not been decided yet, right?

GORMAN: It's been decided.

BIRDWHISTELL: Okay. (laughs)

GORMAN: (laughs) Some people don't know it yet--

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, that's wh--will they build a new building then out by the uh--

GORMAN: They're--they're getting ready to build that ARH--uh, uh, the UK Center for Rural Health out there will be the third big building, and then uh, they'll build another building before they get through with it. They'll have to.

BIRDWHISTELL: Wow. What's the future of all this medical development? 01:10:00How do you see it working out?

GORMAN: Hazard is the third largest medical center in Kentucky.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's unbelievable.

GORMAN: And uh, we are the third teaching hospital in--in Kentucky. You've got Norton at Louisville, UK Chandler Center, and Hazard (laughs) and it--and uh, as l--I wish I could show you the invitation--


GORMAN: It had nineteen names. They wanted us to come meet the--the staff.


GORMAN: I don't know where it is, but it--go ahead, uh, Terry, you got any--

BIRDWHISTELL: Okay. Yeah um, one question, in case we run out of time, that I want to ask you--


BIRDWHISTELL: --and I don't know if it's a proper question or not, but I'm gonna--

GORMAN: Well, ask it. (laughs)

BIRDWHISTELL: --but I'm gonna ask it anyway. (Gorman laughs) In--in all the things that you've done here in Hazard--I mean just an incredible 01:11:00array of projects, and initiatives, and economic development, and public works, and the--the list is just so long, did you ever think what you could've done if you'd been in a place where the land was flat and (Gorman laughs) and opportunities were--were more bountiful? Is that a--is that a terrible question to ask you? I know you love Hazard.

GORMAN: Well uh, let me go back. My great-great-great grandfather moved to Hazard--


GORMAN: --and we've been drinking from the North Fork of the Kentucky River for two hundred years, and the only thing is this is--uh, uh--where I live on top of the mountain, I had to cut the top of the mountain off in order to build the house (laughs)--

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs) Okay, so you understand my question then?

GORMAN: Well, the--the thing about it is this--is I--I built a--a mountain subdivisions long before I ever thought about becoming mayor, and uh, and I built--I--uh, a couple of friends of mine and myself went 01:12:00into construction business when we were young, and uh, before I quit that, we had built over two hundred homes.

BIRDWHISTELL: Right. GORMAN: And a bunch of commercial buildings, and all this kind of thing, but I built one on the side of the hill, Terry--


GORMAN: --and I--I--the bank wanted to know when I was gonna sell it because they'd had four, five people looked at it. And I--for some reason, I just decided I better hold onto it a little longer--


GORMAN: --and what happened, I had noticed that there was sort of a little thin uh, crack in the earth--

BIRDWHISTELL: Fault, a little fault right there, huh?

GORMAN: --and so uh, anyway, one July the fourth we were all down--under the Sun Valley Terrace, we built the Sun Valley Club. We built a swimming pool, and tennis courts, and all this kind of thing, and about eight o'clock at night (coughs) we called the kids off the tennis courts, and called--got them all out of the pool, and--and we 01:13:00had a cookout. Well, all of a sudden I heard this splintering and uh, shuttering sound--the--the most terrible sound you ever heard in your life. And that house that was about seven hundred feet or a thousand feet above that pool--not above the pool but above the tennis court, came all the way to the tennis court.

BIRDWHISTELL: Oh, good heavens.

GORMAN: Cost me about seventy-five thousand dollars.

BIRDWHISTELL: Oh goodness.

GORMAN: That was the day I went out of the construction business. (laughs)

BIRDWHISTELL: Well, the reason I asked the question is that, you know, you think of--you know, if Mayor Gorman's in Owensboro where the land is flat and then, you know, you got every--you know, I would--projects would be easier to accomplish in some ways, I'm--is that not accurate?

GORMAN: Well, you--that's true but the only thing--just like right now, the--the community college up here has got twenty-eight acres--


GORMAN: Uh, there's--across the road from the community college there's 01:14:00a track of land that's a hillside, twenty-nine acres, and the people are asking seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars, because the college needs it. Well, I've been meeting with the--with the owners and I've assured them that we won't pay them seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars. So I've brought their price down considerably, but the only thing is, once we get the land, we've got to go in and terrace it.


GORMAN: And--and w--

BIRDWHISTELL: You can't just go in and--

GORMAN: You just can't go in and build on it. You have to go in and do someth--

BIRDWHISTELL: That's my--that's what I'm saying. Everything you've done, it's been harder but yet look what you've done? I mean it's just- -uh, it's very impressive.

GORMAN: Well, the--right here, uh, can I tell you a story about Jackie Swaggart?

BIRDWHISTELL: I'd love to hear it.

GORMAN: You--you know Jackie?


GORMAN: Well, Jackie was--she was on the Environmental Quality Commission with me. Uh, our good friend, Wendell Ford appointed Jackie, and myself, and various ones to the Environmental Quality 01:15:00Commission back in--when Wendell was governor.


GORMAN: And uh, so uh, I told Jackie, I said, "Jackie, uh, I--" but this after city hall burned, and I brought her to Hazard, and I brought her down from this site, and I said, "Jackie, I wanna to build a city hall right here."

BIRDWHISTELL: Right. (laughs)

GORMAN: And she said, "Is it in a flood plain." (Birdwhistell laughs) I said, "Jackie, all of Hazard's in the flood plain." (both laugh) And so anyway, I took--I wined and dined her and everything, and uh, she let--let us build it here. And of course, you know, we're--[Telephone Rings]--we built it up, all these kinds of things. Excuse me, just a minute.

[Pause in recording.]


GORMAN: Well, I've got fifteen minutes, I'm all right.

BIRDWHISTELL: Because I can--I can come back again sometime.

GORMAN: Oh, go ahead.

BIRDWHISTELL: So you built city hall here in a flood plain, and built it up, and make it work.


GORMAN: Yeah. Then the--but the only thing is this, uh, Terry, uh, in 1984 I was in Cal--uh, no, I was in Seattle, Washington and up in Vict--uh, Victoria, Canada, that section out there, and I called my office to find out what's going on. And my secretary uh, said, "Just a minute, I'll let you speak to somebody." And of course, she rung in here, and Martha Layne Collins was here, and Hazard was under--and had (laughs) flooded.

BIRDWHISTELL: Oh, no. (laughs)

GORMAN: And as usual the--"Who in the hell let you build the city hall where you did?" I said, "Why?" She said, "I had to walk through the water to get to cit--" (Birdwhistell laughs) and she was sitting at my desk. But we had--it--it was--it came up about two or three feet on the steps out there, but--

BIRDWHISTELL: But you built that up so that--

GORMAN: Yeah. And it's got pylons under it and everything.

BIRDWHISTELL: Yeah. Um, we have a lot more that uh--that we need to 01:17:00cover and I know we're running out of time. Um, so uh, let me just ask you about the uh--the community college and its importance to the development of Hazard from the governmental economic standpoint.

GORMAN: Well, uh, uh, Terry, the most important thing that we have on this earth, no matter where we look from or look to is education. Uh, we were able to get the Hazard Community College. It's a story within itself, um--

BIRDWHISTELL: I wouldn't mind hearing it sometime, if we have more time.

GORMAN: Well uh--

BIRDWHISTELL: Maybe next time?

GORMAN: --Bert Combs--Bert Combs promised it to Blackey. And me and Willie Dawahare took Ned Breathitt--after Bert had gone out of office, 01:18:00took Ned Breathitt, put him on television and we asked him, "If the University of Kentucky decides what the--that the college would go either to Blackey, Kentucky in Letcher County or in Hazard, what would your decision be? Would you--your decision be--if they say to Hazard would be the place, would you put it in Hazard?" He--he said, "Yes, I would. I would take the recommendation of the Univers--of the University of Kentucky." So Ned Breathitt is responsible for the college being here, because otherwise it's gonna be Stuart Robinson up in uh, Letcher County which is about fifty miles from southeast. The- -uh, but thanks to Ned, he decided Hazard would be the place, and we got on him on television, got him on tape. (laughs)

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs) That's the best way to do it there.

GORMAN: Tell you another story about tape. (coughs) Uh, you know, 01:19:00governors are a lot of fun.


GORMAN: You remember when Wendell Ford went to the senate?


GORMAN: Uh, the fellow that followed him was Mr. Carroll.


GORMAN: Well, Mr. Carroll came to Hazard, and Willie Dawahare, who's- -he and I did a show together on TV, and we got this fellow by the name of To--Don Crosswait, who had a radio station in Whitesburg, and we got uh, Julian on TV. And we--uh, Willie and I were smart because Julian Carroll was from Paducah--


GORMAN: --and Don Crosswait was from Paducah.


GORMAN: So we made Don Crosswait ask Julian Carroll if he would build a road from Hazard to Prestonsburg, Highway 80, and Ju--Julian Carroll says, "If I am elected governor, and some people think--say that I will 01:20:00be, (Birdwhistell laughs) I promise you that I will build a road from Hazard to Prestonsburg." (coughs) Julian hadn't been governor two weeks and this fellow VanHoose was the price--uh, the press secretary put out a statement, "The only governor ever elected without making a single promise." (Birdwhistell laughs) And so I called VanHoose up and I--I told him, I said, "I wanna play you a tape." And I played--play--played the tape for him and--and he saw, he said anybody can edit a tape.


GORMAN: I said, "Well, would you like to see his mouth move?" (Birdwhistell laughs) He says, "What do you mean?" I said, "I am not a uh, radio broadcaster. I am a television broadcaster."

BIRDWHISTELL: We have video--

GORMAN: --and I said, "I--I will send you a copy of this tape." And so I gave it to the county judge, uh, gave him some copies and sent a copy to the governor's office and--uh, uh, this was on--about a Tuesday. The following Thursday we met at the Frankfort Country Club with the 01:21:00governor and all these people from Eastern Kentucky, where he announced he was gonna build the road from Hazard to Prestonsburg.


GORMAN: And that's the power of television.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's the power.

GORMAN: That--but getting back to your college, the most important that's ever happened to Eastern Kentucky is the fact we have a two year college here. The most important thing to happen is that we have to have a four year education here. It--it either has to be through the consortium of other schools or a major school. If they're gonna wipe out poverty in Appalachia, you will do it through education.

BIRDWHISTELL: That's right.

GORMAN: Now, it--it--if that ain't wise words, then what I have said is all wrong and I can blame it on him.

BIRDWHISTELL: (laughs) Yeah.

GORMAN: Because Dewey Daniel told me that when I was a little boy.

BIRDWHISTELL: He was a smart man.


GORMAN: He says, "Get your education. Get your education. Get your education."

BIRDWHISTELL: He's a smart man. Well let's stop on that note because you've got work to do--

GORMAN: Well--

BIRDWHISTELL: --and uh, if it's okay I'll try and make arrangements to get back down here.

GORMAN: Well, I love to--I enjoy talking to you, Terry--


GORMAN: --we haven't even started. (both laugh)

[End of interview.]