Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Rocky Adkins, December 15, 2003

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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LOVELY: Hmm, you're so smart.

ADKINS: ----------(??)---------- back to this, to this library, and if you walk back through here, I'll show you this real quick.

LOVELY: Tell me again about the core of the city, why it's important for small towns?

ADKINS: Well, I just think that it's, you know, just so important that we've been able to work really hard here with the League of Cities' help, you know, the first project we done here, we had a block of buildings that were burned down, and we needed a new post office, and it started, really the core of this city was started with the post office, and keeping it here in town.

LOVELY: Um-hm.

ADKINS: And then we went from there, and of course, the school that's here in town, high School, elementary school, and you know, the middle schools here in town, and, uh, then we done the renovation and the expansion on the court house. So I just really believe that if you can keep those things in town, to keep the traffic flow going, that really 00:01:00if people want to see a model of the city, and the things within that city to make it really prosper, in my opinion, I think Sandy Hook is really a good place to, to look. Now, you know--

LOVELY: What set you on fire about that, uh, that post office? I just remember the passion in your voice--

ADKINS: Well it was--

LOVELY: --it really got to you, didn't it? (laughs)

ADKINS: --it was really though, just, just the eyesore. You know, we have gutted burnt down buildings that stood there for three or four years. And people that would come back that were from here, and people like me that had lived here all their lives, I mean, it was just an eye sore, and, uh, our postmaster really started that project. She called and she said, you know, "I'd like to try to get the post office," which was here in town--

LOVELY: Right.

ADKINS: "We'd like to try to get that property." Well, there's three or four different property owners, and, uh, so it was, it was really a joint effort by the postmaster and the mayor, myself, League of Cities 00:02:00got involved, and really helped--

LOVELY: I remember that phone call. (laughs)

ADKINS: And we came, and were, you know, we put some money in the state budget to help the city be able to buy that property, and the mayor was really active and stayed after it, and we were ab--, the city was able to get control of the property. And when they did, then the postal service bought the property back and built a beautiful, beautiful post office, beautiful parking area with it, and that all kind of started--

LOVELY: Yeah, sort of became neat centerpiece, didn't it?

ADKINS: Yeah, centerpiece, people took a tremendous amount of pride, and they took a tremendous amount of pride in us being able to keep that in town. You know, you take a small city like Sandy Hook, I mean, people come to town for a few reasons. An-, a, they either going to go to the post office, they're either going to the court house, they're either coming to town to shop at a grocery store, or whatever that may be, and, and the other thing we've been able to do here, Mr. Binion, our 00:03:00school superintendent, has made a really concerted effort in keeping our school here in town within the city limits.

LOVELY: Which, actually is quite amazing thing. (laughs)

ADKINS: And he's been able to buy property, and then, you know, a beautiful public library that we built here on school property that Mr. Binion, our school superintendent donated for this project, a $1.4 million project. Uh, people have taken so much pride in this building, the beauty of it. So, from all of that, everybody's taken a little pride in making their place look a little better. The bank, People's Bank, redone their downtown bank here and done a beautiful job. The Board of Education has done a complete renovation of their building, and, and, you know, if you just look at this little town, and you look at the pride that people have, you know, we're standing here in the library now, and it's amazing the pride that people have for this place. You know. All ages come here. Every, you know, we got a 00:04:00children's library here. We got all the technology that anybody could want here. We got Morehead State University, University of Kentucky both involved in this project. We're going to have a one-stop center in the extra space in this library to even bring more people here. Employment services had leased space in this library to have a call center where people can call in and file their unemployment insurance claims, rather than having to drive all the way to Morehead, and it'll be a regional call center. So that's even going to bring more people in. And the one stop center, people can come in and fill out job applications, they can come in and get vocational rehabilitation services, they can come in and practically get whatever service, and the lease from this extra space is going back in to run the library. The Board of Education runs the daily operations of this library, county and city both have been very helpful, so I go back really, so it'll be, you know, this is a perfect example of tha-, when people 00:05:00work together, great things happen. Everybody from the city level, to the county level, to the state level, the board of education, people in this community, you know, has been really supportive of everything that we've done. Uh. We got, you know, like I said, two institutions involved in this project. We're going to hook this regional library up with the technology center that just opened over in West Liberty, which is a beautiful building.

LOVELY: Oh, it's, yeah, that's nice.

ADKINS: U. K. has been here to see how they can collaborate that to make it really effective. Morehead State University has what we call an instructional site--

LOVELY: Um-hmm.

ADKINS: --which has allowed them to put money in to do the technology and help us with that technology. So we've really got, uh, if you just want to talk about this public library, another way to bring people into this community, and into this, what I call, a small town.

LOVELY: Well, you know, what you're, what you're talking about is a revival that, and answer, you know, some of your critics in bigger places say these places are going away, and yet when we come, we know 00:06:00that's not happening, that there really is a revival. Uh, Tad and I were talking about, somebody sent me the cover of Kentucky Explorer the other day. It was a picture taken in 1917 or 11, anyway, my grandfather is in the picture, and he was on an old ball team in ---- ------(??), Kentucky, outside of West Liberty, and it was a look back, and a nostalgic look, when West Liberty was the big town, and --------- -(??) was in, and then they had these little ball teams. But that's not really all that gone away. I mean, that's--

ADKINS: Well, we had been able to revive this community, in my opinion, with a lot of help from a lot of different areas. Everything good that happens, happens from the local level. I don't care, you know, I can take it to Frankfort, and we've been successful, you know, getting money in the budget to help with a lot of things. You know, we've got a new state prison being built here, a ninety million project that's going to create 350 jobs, when it's opened next year. It'll open in May/June of '04, ninety million dollars being spun back into this 00:07:00community. Those construction workers, they buy lunch, they buy gas, they, you know, they're here everyday working. A lot of people here in the community are working there when it opens, 350 million, about a sixteen, seventeen million annual payroll of people being able to work there with health insurance, retirement benefits, and making a pretty good wage while they work there. So if you look at that project, which was about ninety million, we've got Route 7, a new road project going on right now.

LOVELY: And they can, yeah. They can connect with the world--

ADKINS: That--

LOVELY: --from anywhere.

ADKINS: So, and with, from that prison project, we've been able to completely rebuild the infrastructure of this county, to be very hon-, along with the city.

LOVELY: And that was a neat part that you told me. Because, you had talked them, not into just doing their own treatment plant, but to connect in, again, the thread coming back toward the center.

ADKINS: That's right. We, we talked about, with the prison project, when we were able to get the prison project funded, and I kind of got 00:08:00in, and talking to the engineers, who work for the state, and they were very helpful. They've listened really close. I said, "Why should the prison build their own wastewater treatment plant, when you can go to Sandy Hook, which is about four miles away and rebuild their infrastructure, rebuild their wastewater treatment plant to not only handle what the city needs, but also what you need and to--"

LOVELY: Get a two for--

ADKINS: --"to build for future expansion?" And they agreed to that. So there was about $3.1 million that came out of the prison project budget to rebuild Sandy Hook's wastewater treatment plant, run the line to be able to handle that. So if you just look at that--

LOVELY: And then you said a new school, or a school was ----------(??)-- -------- too.

ADKINS: And Lakeside school, which is another elementary school here in Elliot County that's had their own package treatment plant, always had problems with it, they're going to be able to hook on that line too, and you know, I just think it's a win-win for everybody. So--

LOVELY: But it didn't used to be that way. You know, I think there's a 00:09:00revival of a revival here.


LOVELY: I mean, back, going back to 1917.


LOVELY: And then there were the hard times when people didn't work together, and these little towns were dying. And now there is this revival that you're really standing in the center of, that you sparked! Ah--

ADKINS: Well, you know, like I said I've worked hard at it, but it's been a cooperative effort. I've had a--

LOVELY: Oh, yeah.

ADKINS: You know, and mayor of this town, Robby Adkins, who, we're not related, but we grew up together as kids, we grew up as neighbors, just, you know, this is his town, just like it's my town. This is, we played on these streets.


ADKINS: We played on these streets. We done the things that we had to do to, we done the things that we had to do to really, you know, rebuild this community, after he, now, I became the state representative, he became mayor, but it was only two miles down the road here where we were raised. I mean, this is where we rode our bicycles. (Lovely 00:10:00laughs) This is where we ran the streets and played tag, and so, so you know, we take a lot of pride in this place. We've had, you know, a great county judge to work with. We had a great school superintendent to work with. We've had great people in this community to work with.

LOVELY: Who really cared?

ADKINS: Who care?


ADKINS: Who cares about this community?

LOVELY: I think big places can maybe learn a thing or two--

ADKINS: And you know, I just think, you know, we talked a little bit earlier, but I just think that really there has been a, a good model used here for cities of all size, to be very honest with you, to take advantage of. And what we have really done--

LOVELY: Sometimes I think, Rocky, that small can teach big something, because you do still have one element, that a lot of the bigger places are losing, and that is the caring element.

ADKINS: Well, and you know, when you--

LOVELY: You know, that turns out to be kind of a gift.

ADKINS: When you, when you have people that, when you have people that have lived here all their lives, everybody knows everybody--


ADKINS: --uh, uh, this community is, like all communities, are full of 00:11:00good people with great pride. We have seen, while I've been growing up, this county lead the state in unemployment rates. Uh. We're not proud of that. If you look at it today and what's been done here, the rebuilding of the infrastructure of this county with water and sewer, waterlines in areas people never thought they'd see a waterline. If you look at the new roads being built into this community, about 45 million dollar to rebuild, you know, Route 7, which is still under construction, so if you look at the infrastructure, and the improvement of access into this community, it's been, it's been phenomenal. We've r-, and then when you take the other parts of the community, a good school system, a great school system, we're small, small school system, about, graduating class of about eighty, 85, ninety students in a graduating class, where I graduated from, Sandy Hook Elementary, Isonville Elementary, and Lakeside Elementary. This is a really close- 00:12:00knit community. And people here, uh, uh, you know, are just like me. You know, they feel like that we've been left out too long.

LOVELY: Um-hm.

ADKINS: And we have not actually got to see and have the same things that people in other areas have. I mean, that's just something that we didn't think that, you know, that we had been able to see. So I think if you look at, uh, if you look at the, really this community, and you look at it over the years, I think that our people kept that pride. And now that, that we're being able to finally see, feel, and touch the things that we've wanted for so long, the community development project's just like this library, you know, having a renovated new courthouse, to be able to have a--

LOVELY: I saw that. Post office--

ADKINS: --to be able to have a beautiful post office--

LOVELY: And even City Hall that matches! (laughs)

ADKINS: Yes, City Hall, and to be able to have new schools--


LOVELY: Oh, yeah.

ADKINS: --full of technology in the classroom. Elliot County is one of the schools that many people talk about in the education field. We've got like one computer for every three children in the school system here.

LOVELY: That's great.

ADKINS: And look at this library, full of technology. It's full of technology, computers, and you see these kids come in here, not only in this library, but this library is fixed for teachers, every age, to come in here and do whatever they need to do. So, you know, you've got a, you've got a community here of people who have, who have a lot of pride, and I'm one of them--

LOVELY: Oh, I can tell. I was--

ADKINS: --who have seen us not really having things that they have other places. And now, finally, we're beginning to see those things, and people are taking a tremendous amount of pride in that, because we've waited a long time. We've waited a long time to get our fair share. And I think that we've built a good foundation here--


LOVELY: Um-hm.

ADKINS: --for future generations to build on. Our people had to leave this county to find one.

LOVELY: That's Right.

ADKINS: Our people have had to travel all over this country to find a good job, to be able to raise their families, and while they travel, their family still lives here, and go to school here. And, and, and they've done that for years. But now, they, along with our younger population are seeing hope and opportunity. Uh. And it's really, really rewarding, from the sense that this is my home too. This is where I live. This is where my children go to school. And, uh, you know, I, that's what I think of it, it's all about. I think it should be about giving people hope and opportunity.


ADKINS: You know, government can't be all things to all people. It can't be all--

LOVELY: ----------(??)----------

ADKINS: --things to all people, but it can do the essential things that 00:15:00need to be done to give people the opportunity.

LOVELY: Well, you know, one of the most impressive things to me, on the post office project, uh, was not even that the day was won with the post office being built, but that the tenacity, you know, of not giving up, because so many communities have. If you recall, talking to those post office people in North Carolina was like talking to cardboard. And it was like, "No, no, no," but, I remember you refused to take no for answer. But I mean, it was an amazing tenacity.

ADKINS: Well, not only did I refuse to take no, but the postmaster here refused to take no as well. And every time--

LOVELY: Um-hm. but it was against the odds.

ADKINS: Yeah, you know, Norita--

LOVELY: Norita, that's right.

ADKINS: --Jefferson--


ADKINS: You know, she refused to take no. Every time they had a hoop for us to jump through, we found a way to jump through it. Uh. You know, the property that, the different three or four land owners, you know, the mayor was able to work through those things. We were able to 00:16:00get money in the state budget to buy the property where he got control of it. And in the end, because of a joint effort by a lot of people, the postmaster, the mayor, and people in this community, we were able to win. And I think the convincing thing is when those post office people came here, and we were able to present our case, an-, it wasn't anything formal, it was very informal, but we fought for that project with the League of Cities' help, and we were able to win, and we gave a very convincing, uh, I think, argument that why, in a small community, should you take something that really is the core of a community, you know, a post office--

LOVELY: Yeah, rip its heart out and put it on--

ADKINS: --and take that and put it someplace where it's not going to benefit--

LOVELY: That doesn't make sense.

ADKINS: --you know, the small town. Same thing with the courthouse. You 00:17:00know, there was a move to try to move the courthouse out of town. And I said, "You can't do that." And they said, "Well, there's not enough parking." I said, "Look, that's a good problem to have, when you can't find a parking place. That's a great problem to have. Because you move this courthouse out of town, or you move this post office out of town, you'll have plenty of parking places, because you're not going to have anybody in the heart of this little city here to help support it."

LOVELY: (laughs) That's a great way to put it. Yeah.

ADKINS: So when I put the money in the budget to do this courthouse project, we basically put it in with budget language to say it will be a renovation and an expansion on the existing courthouse. And that was the only way the money could be used. Now, did that cause any hard feelings? Maybe with two or three people, but the community as a whole knew and wanted that courthouse to remain there. And from that there's been a sense of pride, really, that has grown from that. Like I said, People's Bank here, done a facelift on their project, the Board of education--

LOVELY: And it's viable.

ADKINS: --has done a facelift, Mr. Binion spent--

LOVELY: It spreads, doesn't it?


ADKINS: --millions of dollars right up here renovating this school, making it just look beautiful, you know, middle schools, a new middle school, and all of that is really--

LOVELY: Well, I remember the day--

ADKINS: --important.

LOVELY: --that the post office ribbon was cut. That was the day of the little tobacco fest. I remember that.

ADKINS: That's right.

LOVELY: And I remember it was a gleaming, shining, sunny day in September.


LOVELY: And I remember the little ROTC band, and all of that, and the little parade coming down the downtown, I mean, it was what it was all about.

ADKINS: Well, you know, there's a lot to be said about small towns. I'm, a, really. a, glad to be able to stand here in a small town that was really struggling. It was struggling from the standpoint, and we've still got some obstacles to overcome, there's no question, but I think if you look at this town ten, fifteen years ago, and you look at it today, I don't think there's any question--

LOVELY: It's transformed.

ADKINS: --that people can see that it's transformed, and it's revived, and the reason it is revived is not only because of the money we've 00:19:00been able to put into renovating and building new brick and mortar, and doing all these things, and putting money into a new road, and putting money into infrastructure, and all those things. Putting money into new schools and renovating the schools that we have here in town. The small towns are really special. They're a special place. And the reason they are, everybody knows everybody.


ADKINS: Everybody knows everybody.

LOVELY: ----------(??)----------. (laughs)

ADKINS: Everybody knows your name. And the reason this place is special to me--

LOVELY: And that's the warmth that human beings need.

ADKINS: And the reason this place is special to me, and you know, you can see a new Subway. And next to the new Subway, you see where the county judge has built his new office building. Behind that you see where the commonwealth attorney has built his new building there. And so, you know, we've been able to keep it all here in a little old space, here in Sandy Hook--

LOVELY: A little compact space.

ADKINS: --and really has created traffic flow that will be here for generations to come. Now, the prison's outside of town about four miles, but you know, they're going to be coming here to the courthouse, 00:20:00they're going to be coming here to the post office, they're going to be driving through this little town to, you know, to spin off, and spen-, you know, to spend their money. So, you know, the reason I'm so proud of this small town, is really because of the pride, and really the type of people that we have here. They're people that are proud. People that have pride. They're people that look at me and say, you know, it's our turn, we're glad to finally be able to be able to get things that they have other places. We're glad that we can see hope and opportunity. We're glad to see a county that used to lead the state in unemployment down to single digits.

LOVELY: Yeah. You're part of a revival.


LOVELY: What's your dream now? What's, what next?

ADKINS: Well, as I said, you know, we've built a good foundation here for generations to build on in years to come. And I really think it's important that we do everything we can, that once you have the momentum 00:21:00going--

LOVELY: Yeah, you've got to build.

ADKINS: --that you don't let it stop. You've got to continue. I mean, so am I satisfied with, with what we've been able to accomplish here? I'm satisfied, but, uh, but, uh, I'm not completely finished with what the real job is (Lovely laughs) and the real job is for us to keep this momentum going. My old college coach, ----------(??)---------- used to tell me, said, "Don't ever be satisfied." He said, "always strive to, always strive to be better." (Lovely laughs) So I guess that I'm not satisfied, and we're striving everyday to be better.

LOVELY: Now, let me ask you a question about Morehead, Morehead State University. I know you have a real interest in that place.

ADKINS: I sure am.

LOVELY: As you know I do. I'm a graduate, I'm on the board of regents, and I know that you meet regularly with those folks, and there's some really exciting things happening in there with that NASA space initiative, and all of that kind of thing. Do you, what do you see as the future? What are some neat things that could happen? Even better, 00:22:00I know that Morehead has presence now in a lot of these smaller places, the West Liberty, no, that's University of Kentucky though--

ADKINS: Well, they built the campus over--

LOVELY: --but still.

ADKINS: --there too.

LOVELY: Yeah. So there's a combination thing going there. So you've got Lee Todd working in the area, you've got--

ADKINS: They've got a West Liberty campus there.


ADKINS: Beautiful building, and this technology center is built on the same ground as the--

LOVELY: Isn't that awesome?

ADKINS: And we've got a really neat educational complex over there. You've got Morehead State University there in the West Liberty Center, and a new building, $6.5 million project that opened four or five years ago, and then you've got this big technology center on the same property that University of Kentucky--

LOVELY: It's awesome.

ADKINS: --so you tell me how many small communities have got something like that. I mean, that's beautiful. And what we've been able to do is capture, on that, the best we can here in Sandy Hook, with this public library, by getting the technology in here from both of those institutions to have us link directly with them.

LOVELY: Um-hm.

ADKINS: For our people to be able to take advantage of that. You know, it's really neat to see Kurt Davis, a 93 year old man, come to this 00:23:00library and use it. It's really, really neat to see someone who used to be school superintendent, he was school superintendent for thirty some years, it's really neat to see someone in their mid ages come in here and find something in this library that, that, they need, want to see, and use. And it's neat to be able to see college aged kids be able to come in here and do their final, you know, their finals here by pulling out these laptop computers and linking up directly--

LOVELY: Isn't that interesting?

ADKINS: --to Morehead. And then it's really neat to see these kids come in here and use this children's library.

LOVELY: Oh yeah, you ought to see that.

ADKINS: The technology, and these little kids got these headphones on, and you know, so I think if you look at what we've been able to do in this city over the last eight or ten years, I think that we have a lot to be proud of. I think we've seen a city -- you said we cut ribbon on that on the tobacco festival--

LOVELY: Oh, that was so sweet.


ADKINS: --that is our festival. And what drove me, more than anything, was that a tobacco festival about two years before that, there's a lot of people come back here that used to live here, and had some people come to me that live in Ohio that graduated from Sandy Hook high School at that time.


ADKINS: And they said they had never seen a bigger eye sore in their life, and they were almost ashamed to come back to town with those gutted buildings. So that kind of stuck with me.

LOVELY: Oh yeah. It was amazing.

ADKINS: And from that, we were able to work together to get this beautiful post office project. We were able to work together to get this beautiful courthouse project. We were able to work together to get forty some million dollars to rebuild Route 7. We were able to work together to get ninety million dollars to build a new state prison. We were able to work together to get $1.4 million dollars to build this beautiful public library. We were able to spend that back into the community to where people done things on their own, like ----- -----(??)---------- the president of People's Bank.


LOVELY: How ----------(??)----------.

ADKINS: Said, "Well, this town is looking so good, I need to do something." (Lovely laughs) It was good to see the board of education redo their building. It was good to see Mr. Binion come up here and redo this high school--

LOVELY: Oh yeah.

ADKINS: --and this middle school, and this grade school--

TAD: There was something ----------(??) this morning back here too.

ADKINS: And that's another thing that we got, that basically I put in the state budget, was to build a enclosed swimming pool for Elliot County, and Sandy Hook--

LOVELY: That's, that area ----------(??)----------.

ADKINS: --to be able to have their first swim team in school history, and they've already had their first meet. So and, and then you drive on down, we've got a five million championship golf course built at the state park just down the road here about ten miles.

LOVELY: And what's this gorge down here? Laurel--

ADKINS: and the Laurel Gorge project that we've got open that we'll go look at in just a minute. The Laurel Gorge, it's called the Laurel Gorge Cultural and Heritage Center. It's very, built right down in the gorge, we built it with transportation dollars. And--

LOVELY: A little known gorge, I guess. I've not even heard about--

ADKINS: It's beautiful. It's beautiful. You know, the Lexington, they came here from channel 27 the other day and just done a great story on 00:26:00it. As a matter of fact, done a story on this, on the town. I've got a tape of it. It's, so there's a lot of people--

LOVELY: Need to get a hold of that.

TAD: -----------(??)---------- WKYT ----------(??)----------

ADKINS: --directing things, and there's a lot of people recognizing how this, how this center or how this city, and how this county has energized itself and revived itself.

LOVELY: Um-hm. Yeah, it's an example.

ADKINS: And as I said, there's, over the last year to year and a half, over the next year to year and a half, you know, there'll be somewhere in the neighborhood of, federal and state dollars, somewhere in the neighborhood of 160-170 million dollars that we'll be able to spend here to completely rebuild the infrastructure of this county and this city, to rebuild the access into this county and into this city.

LOVELY: That's awesome.

ADKINS: And then if you look at the community development projects. And I call these projects like we're talking about, post office, library, new schools--

LOVELY: Human need things.


LOVELY: Human quality of life things, yeah.

ADKINS: I call those community development projects. Now, have we 00:27:00accomplished everything we need to? No, we haven't. We've still got a tremendous amount of work to do. But have we come a long way, uh, to where, now, our people that have lived here all their life are looking and saying, "Hey, I like what's going on. We finally can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We finally think that we may be able to stay here if we so choose--"


TAD: So you've given them hope.

LOVELY: That's hope. Hope

ADKINS: We've given them hope, and we've given them opportunity.

LOVELY: And those ----------(??)----------.

ADKINS: And I said, I said a while ago, Tad, the government can't be all things to all people, but let me tell you what it can, it can darn sure help. And if you want to see some examples of how it's helped, you come to this community, and we can show you time, after time, after time. We had, we had the governor come here before he left office, just for a little tour. He wanted to come. He called us. And I said, "Sure, we'll show you." He came to the little convenient mart where we met him down there, and people waiting on him to pat him on the back and thank him. I didn't organize it--


LOVELY: Oh, that's good--

ADKINS: --they just knew, you know, they knew he was coming, so all the state police were there, waiting on him. They stayed and waited. We took him to the prison, done a little driving tour of the prison, the road that's under construction. We brought him down to the Laurel Gorge Cultural and Heritage Center down into Laurel Gorge, and let him see that. We come out of there and we came up here and showed him this beautiful library and that beautiful courthouse, and showed him the post office--

LOVELY: Oh, did he see that? Yeah. He should've loved that.

ADKINS: --and then we took him on a drive up through school here. Just by, drove by, and drove around, and he was running late, really, but I said, "We've got one more stop we need to make." And we pulled in and went in the gymnasium, and it was packed with people who wanted to thank him.

LOVELY: Oh! (laughs)

ADKINS: And they gave him a standing ovation when he walked in--

LOVELY: Ah. How sweet!

ADKINS: And so--

LOVELY: That must have been so good for him.

ADKINS: It was really moving for him and me both, to be very honest with you, but you know, it just takes, it just takes a lot of effort, it 00:29:00takes a lot of determination--

LOVELY: Tenacity.

ADKINS: --and it takes people who are willing to work together. And if you want to see an example of how people have worked together from the city level to the county level, the community level to the state level, I think this town can show you a pretty good example of that.

TAD: Let me ask you a question, and this is the real trick that brought me in ----------(??) and a lot of communities that I be working in, now that you've gotten stuck here, do you think that, what's the plan for the next step, which is not just implementation, but are they using it? Do you have any, we have two or three cities that are really wired, but using that to its full benefit?

ADKINS: Oh yeah. There's no question? There's no question of that.

TAD: And I think that's kind of what you're getting to with the follow through, and what's the next step?


TAD: Is, are the facilities being used, and do people really appreciate what it's done.

ADKINS: This facility, the librarian just came in there a minute ago, she can tell you that where we built this facility has helped even 00:30:00more. We built this facility here on a piece of property that the board of education donated, which sits right beside of the middle school, Sandy Hook elementary, Elliot County High School, I mean, when they get out of school, well, they can come right here--

TAD: They can come right here.

ADKINS: --and have all the technology--

LOVELY: I love how it's close to the school.

ADKINS: It is also--

LOVELY: It's an extension.

ADKINS: --accessible to the rest of the county, for people from 93 to one years old, to be able to come here for something to do. And so I think the planning of building this facility, where people can get to it, where you can build it in a small community like ours to get the most use, and then to turn the rest of it into a one stop center, uh, where people can come and get other services--

LOVELY: Amazing use.

ADKINS: --is something that's really special. When you go down here and see this, the Laurel Gorge down here, when you go down here and see our, the Heritage and Cultural Center, you'll see another education center. You'll see an education center that, that really, we got 00:31:00funded through calling it a welcome center. And basically, when people come here, and that's the only way we could get it to qualify for transportation dollars.


ADKINS: So, so we got T-21--


ADKINS: --to go down there and build that right in that gorge, and we'll go look at it in a minute. People are coming from all over, Channel 3 out of Huntington done a story on that, plus this community, 27 done a, so if, you know, if you want to talk about positive things, I think this is the county to look at right now. I really do. People are excited, they're enthused about what's going on here, uh, you know. At first, to be very honest with you, people were a little apprehensive. Do we really want that much change? But what's been, and what I think has been impressive here, we've been able to balance. We've take a project, we've taken a project like the Laurel Gorge Cultural and Heritage Center, and we've taken that, and we're going to preserve the cultural and the history of this county. It takes you through a 00:32:00walk through time of Elliot County and it's built in one of the most environmentally sensitive areas, the, Laurel Creek is one of the few tributaries anywhere in this country that can still habitat the brown trout.

LOVELY: Oh, neat.

ADKINS: I fished it. I've rode horses in it. I've played games in it. (Lovely laughs) I grew up in the Laurel Gorge. So when somebody starts telling me about the Laurel Gorge, you know--

LOVELY: You know it. (both laugh)

ADKINS: --don't tell me nothing, I know it. And it's the most beautiful place in this world. I'm just telling you, it is absolutely beautiful.

LOVELY: Oh, how wonderful.

ADKINS: So we tried to take, we've tried to take a project like that and really preserve, you know, the tourism part of our county, the history of our county, the cultural, cultural values of our county. We've tried to balance it, while we've come in on the other side, and--

LOVELY: And bought all the modern tools.

ADKINS: --and tried to bring jobs, and tried to bring--

LOVELY: Which is our, the city's our industry.

ADKINS: --the industry part of it, where we built the prison, and new roads, and rebuilt the infrastructure of this county. So we have tried 00:33:00to really preserve what we have here.

LOVELY: Has Tad told you about this?


LOVELY: You know us as lobbyists, but this is the different side of us. This is the community development side.

TAD: This is the part that I do.

LOVELY: This is the final 1-C3, separate entity from the League, and the reason we made it separate from the League, is we wanted to separate it, frankly, from it our lobbying mission. Because it was getting too much like cities are, you know, a lobbying group. This is all about what you've been talking about.

ADKINS: Exactly.

LOVELY: I mean, this is it.

ADKINS: And that's what we've tried to do in this county. We've tried to, we've tried our best. And I think it's really balanced out well. While we, we've tried to, you know, Eastern Kentucky really has tourism potential that's unbelievable. We've only scratched the surface in my opinion. Now, we've made a lot of strides over the past few years with, you know, upgrading our state parks, with building the new projects, with golf courses, and other things at those state parks. You know, we done a big renovation project as you well know, a few 00:34:00years ago, that, you know, renovated all of our state parks, and we're noted as having one of the finest in the country. The other tourist attraction, like the Laurel Gorge project, to bring people. So we've tried to take the tourism, along with the talent we have here. You know, the folk artists that we have in this county, you may not know it, but Minnie Adkins, who may be a distant relation to mine, is the natio-, was the national folk artist of the year in 2000, or 1999, she used to, her ----------(??) the country?

LOVELY: Uh-huh.

ADKINS: You know, everybody came. Phyllis George brought greyhounds, and they came from New York, California, and she had moved out to the folk art center down at Morehead, but she had it up the head of the holler where she lives now.

LOVELY: With Bernie ----------(??) grandfather is, a part of the woodworkers.

ADKINS: So, when you take the tourism, along with the talents we have here, the musicians--

LOVELY: Yeah. You know, amazing.

ADKINS: The musicians are just unbelievable here. Bluegrass music, you know, Keith Whitley's from this county. All of those things, and you take the folk art, and then you take the history of this county, and 00:35:00we've tried to preserve all of that in the center. And we're taking students, teachers are coordinating times to go down to look at all this, and they got a classroom back there where they can actually teach sessions on this county, and the history of this county, and the environmental things of this county. So we've tried to take, you know, the environmental sensitive areas, along with the talent of this county, and along with the history of this county, and attract those tourists to come here, and spend their money here, and stay here, and see what we have. And then on the other side, we've tried to balance that with going after what type of jobs can we get here to make sure our people stay here, make sure they have the opportunity to stay here.

LOVELY: Yeah. Good ----------(??)----------.

ADKINS: So with the present, with about 350 jobs, and new road being built into, to this county, and what can spin off from that prison into other types of jobs, I think the future looks good.

LOVELY: It's great.


ADKINS: I think the future looks good.

TAD: I think one thing that happens too, Rocky, that you don't find in a lot of, of, school systems, particularly, is this, this pride in place, really understanding, you know, they United States history, they have world history, they have s-, Kentucky history. Do they have Elliot County history? Do they have Sandy Hook history? And what you've created here is that opportunity.


LOVELY: Well, and the new Cities foundation combines that sense of place, what, you said it just a few minutes ago, combines that strong sense of place, has always been a gift, with the new global realities.


LOVELY: You know, we've got to be able to compete, we've got to connect people to the outside world. They won't stay, if you can't.


LOVELY: And so, it's that tricky combination.

ADKINS: It is. Well, you know, throughout eastern Kentucky, you'll see people with a tremendous amount of pride, tremendous workforce, you know, great place to live, low crime rate, just super great people that are helping each other when they need help, and then if you look 00:37:00at this county, and you know, it's a good example, it's who I am, to be very honest with you, it's who I am, I mean I'm, I'm Elliot County, eastern Kentucky from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet, and I'm proud of it. (laughs) I'm very proud of it. But you know, growing up as a kid, you know, I always heard people say that, you know, our region's never gotten its fair share. It's never gotten its fair share. And I agree with that, but over the past several years, with a lot of help from a lot of different people, in different regions of the state, you know, the people that I served with, to be very honest with you, have stepped up and helped, you know, and other delegations have stepped up and helped. And they've said, you know, you know, all regions of this state need to, need to be able to prosper and move forward. Now, like I said, we've still got a lot of work to do, but I think that with the rebuilding of the infrastructure in this region and in this county, with the building of better access through better roads 00:38:00into eastern Kentucky, and in this county, you know, it builds a pretty good foundation. And there's no question that it's helped revive this county. Without question, along with, you know, a big lick from ninety million dollars on a project that's going to create 350 jobs.

TAD: Um-hm.

LOVELY: Um-hm.

ADKINS: All of that spun off, to be very honest with you, into a pride that really has made some really fantastic things happen in a small little town in eastern Kentucky called Sandy Hook.

LOVELY: Mmm! I love that. Let me ask you a qu--

[Pause in recording.]

LOVELY: So you came back?


LOVELY: Where did you go when you came back?

LIBRARIAN: I married a man from Texas, and I lived in Texas for thirteen years, and then I come back here.

LOVELY: Well, you wised up.

LIBRARIAN: Yes, I love it. (Lovely laughs) It was too fast. It was way too fast.

LOVELY: In Texas, yeah.

LIBRARIAN: I really like it here, though--

LOVELY: And what a neat job.

LIBRARIAN: Oh, I love my job. I love--

LOVELY: You've been with the library now since it--

LIBRARIAN: I come, I moved here in 1991, and I took over, I was working 00:39:00with adult literacy, and in, it in, was housed in the library. My mother was a librarian, in fact.


LIBRARIAN: And then mother retired, and another lady took over, and when she decided to retire, the judge says, "You know, you help out in there, I think we ought to combine it, because it's all in the same." And I said, "Well, I'll try."

[End of interview.]