Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Richard Thomas, September 15, 2006

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:09 - Interview introduction

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Partial Transcript: This is Dale Johnson for Eastern Kentucky PRIDE talking with Director Richard Thomas on September 15th, 2006 in Somerset, Kentucky.

Segment Synopsis: Dale Johnson begins the interview.

Keywords: Eastern Kentucky; Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment (PRIDE); Somerset (Ky.)

GPS: Somerset (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.083056, -84.609444
00:00:30 - Personal history

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Partial Transcript: It'd be nice if we could start out with a little bit of background about your life, um, 'cause, um, I just think it's kind of interesting, uh, to have it on tape.

Segment Synopsis: Thomas describes his life growing up both in Texas and Wyoming, going into detail about the places in which he grew up in both states. He briefly mentions his time in the Army and his transition to working for secretary James Bickford in the Kentucky Natural Resource Cabinet.

Keywords: Bickford, James; James Bickford; Laramie (Wyo.); Natural Resource Cabinet; Panhandle (Tex.); Perryton (Tex.); Sheridan (Wyo.); Tennessee; Texas Revolution

Subjects: Childhood; Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet; Kentucky.; Texas.; United States. Army.; Wyoming.

GPS: Perryton (Tex.)
Map Coordinates: 36.391667, -100.806111
00:04:56 - Time in the army

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Partial Transcript: So, uh, did you say you were drafted into the Army?

Segment Synopsis: Thomas discusses his time in the Army, where he underwent basic training, as well as where he was stationed throughout his 26 1/2 year career, including the one year he spent serving in the Vietnam War.

Keywords: 101st; 101st Division; Fort Campbell (Ky.); Fort Lewis (Wash.); Fort Ord (Calif.); Germany

Subjects: Kentucky.; Military service, Voluntary.; United States. Army--Military life; United States. Army.; Vietnam War, 1961-1975.

GPS: Fort Campbell (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 36.65, -87.466667
00:06:45 - Transition to working with Secretary Bickford

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Partial Transcript: Uh, how'd you get, uh, how'd you--did you have a connection or something with state government?

Segment Synopsis: Thomas describes how he came to work with Personal Responsibility In a Desirable Environment (PRIDE) and his early role as principal assistant to James Bickford, as well as his representative on the executive committee.

Keywords: Army; Bickford, James; Board of directors; Congressman Hal Rogers; Hal Rogers; James Bickford; Natural Resources Cabinet; Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment (PRIDE); Rogers, Hal; Secretary James Bickford

Subjects: Environmental protection; Environmentalism; Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet; Kentucky.

00:09:37 - Transition to executive director of PRIDE

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Partial Transcript: Did you get drafted into taking this job when you--in 2003?

Segment Synopsis: Thomas discusses how he came to be the Executive Director of PRIDE, and Congressman Hal Rogers' formation of Unlawful Narcotics Interdiction, Treatment, and Education (UNITE).

Keywords: Congressman Hal Rogers; Hal Rogers; Methamphetamines; Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment (PRIDE); Rogers, Hal; Unlawful Narcotics Interdiction, Treatment, and Education (UNITE)

Subjects: Drug abuse; Drug addiction; Drugs.; Environmental protection; Environmentalism; Kentucky.; Rogers, Harold Dallas, 1937-

00:10:58 - Secretary Bickford's death / working together

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Partial Transcript: When did, um, Secretary Bickford pass?

Segment Synopsis: Thomas discusses the death of Secretary James Bickford, as well as the Secretary's work and why he was chosen as Secretary.

Keywords: Bickford, James; Cabinet Secretary; Congressman Hal Rogers; Governor Paul Patton; Hal Rogers; James Bickford; Leadership; Natural Resources Cabinet; Patton, Paul; Paul Patton; Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment (PRIDE); Rogers, Hal; Secretary James Bickford

Subjects: Death.; Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet; Kentucky.; Rogers, Harold Dallas, 1937-; United States. Army.

00:17:17 - Formation of PRIDE

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Partial Transcript: And how did he get to know Hal Rogers?

Segment Synopsis: Thomas discusses how Secretary Bickford and Congressman Rogers came to meet and work together to form PRIDE.

Keywords: Army; Bickford, James; Congressman Hal Rogers; Dumps; Eastern Kentucky; Evarts (Ky.); Hal Rogers; James Bickford; Leadership; Migration; Natural Resources Cabinet; Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment (PRIDE); Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC); Rogers, Hal; Secretary James Bickford; Septic systems; Southeastern Kentucky; Southern Kentucky; West Virginia

Subjects: Environmental protection; Environmentalism; Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet; Kentucky.; Pollution.; Refuse and refuse disposal.; Waste disposal sites

GPS: Evarts (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 36.863889, -83.194167
00:20:53 - The formation of different organizations to help Southeastern Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Um, the first group--and, you know, PRIDE is an affiliate and one of several here in the center--the first group that the Congressman formed was called, um, well it's called Southern Kentucky...

Segment Synopsis: Thomas discusses the formation of various organizations in Kentucky with the goal of improving Southeastern Kentucky's economy, tourism, environment, drug usage, and security.

Keywords: Bickford, James; Center for Rural Development; Congressman Hal Rogers; Crafts; Drug treatment; Eastern Kentucky; Economy; Environment; Hal Rogers; James Bickford; Music; National Institute for Hometown Security (NIHS); Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment (PRIDE); Rogers, Hal; Secretary James Bickford; Southeastern Kentucky; Southern Kentucky; TourSEKY; Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education (UNITE)

Subjects: Drug abuse; Drug addiction; Drugs.; Environmental protection; Environmentalism; Kentucky.; Pollution.; Tourism.

00:28:31 - Time at the Natural Resources Cabinet / open dumps initiative

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Partial Transcript: When you were at the, um, Natural Resources Cabinet, what did, what did you actually do when you were there?

Segment Synopsis: Thomas discusses his time at the Natural Resource Cabinet, specifically his work on the open dump initiative that sought to eradicate illegal garbage dumps in rural Kentucky.

Keywords: 5th district; Bickford, James; Congressman Hal Rogers; Dumps; Fifth district; Hal Rogers; Illegal dumps; James Bickford; Kentucky 5th District; Natural Resources Cabinet; Open Dump Initiative; Rogers, Hal; Secretary James Bickford

Subjects: Environmental protection; Environmentalism; Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet; Kentucky.; Pollution.; Refuse and refuse disposal.; Waste disposal sites

00:32:17 - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' involvement

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Partial Transcript: But, um, how did--one thing I'm still sketchy about--how did the Army Corps of Engineers get into the picture with giv--I don't understand, they've got some kind of grant program too where they're...

Segment Synopsis: Thomas discusses how the Army Corps of Engineers is working in the area in partnership with PRIDE to improve wastewater treatment systems.

Keywords: Clean Water Act; Congressman Hal Rogers; Grants; Hal Rogers; Innovative water treatment; Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment (PRIDE); Rogers, Hal; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Wastewater; Wastewater treatment; Water treatment; Water treatment systems

Subjects: Environmental protection; Environmentalism; Kentucky.; Pollution.; Refuse and refuse disposal.; Sewerage.; United States. Army. Corps of Engineers.; Wastewater treatment and reuse; Water quality.

00:35:49 - State park and U.S. Forestry Service partnerships

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Partial Transcript: And, um, how about--I was intrigued when you were talking about, um, a ranger from Daniel Boone Park.

Segment Synopsis: Thomas discusses partnerships between PRIDE, State Parks, and the U.S. Forestry Service in order to restore wetlands and increase environmental education for students in Kentucky.

Keywords: Daniel Boone National Forest; Education; Marshes; Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment (PRIDE); Rivers; State parks; Swamps; U.S. Forest Service; Wetlands

Subjects: Daniel Boone National Forest (Ky.); Environmental education.; Environmental protection; Environmentalism; Kentucky.; Natural areas; United States. Forest Service

GPS: Daniel Boone National Forest (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.288056, -83.875278
00:38:36 - The purpose of PRIDE

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Partial Transcript: So, I'm getting the, the idea that, that the whole idea of, of PRIDE is to develop these partnerships.

Segment Synopsis: Thomas discusses the idea behind PRIDE and its main purpose of helping Southern and Eastern Kentucky by providing resources to local governments for them to utilize.

Keywords: Dumps; Eastern Kentucky; Partnerships; Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment (PRIDE); Resource management; Resources; Southeastern Kentucky; Southern Kentucky; Volunteering; Volunteerism

Subjects: Environmental education.; Environmental protection; Environmentalism; Kentucky.; Pollution.; Refuse and refuse disposal.; Volunteers; Waste disposal sites

00:41:51 - Grant money and regulations

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Partial Transcript: One thing that, that's confu--just personally confused me, what's this litter abatement program?

Segment Synopsis: Thomas discusses the Litter Abatement Program, as well as how grant money is regulated and allocated to different projects.

Keywords: Federal grants; Federal regulations; Grant money; Grants; Litter abatement programs; National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment (PRIDE)

Subjects: Environmental protection; Environmentalism; Federal Aid; Kentucky.; Litter (Trash); Pollution.; Refuse and refuse disposal.; United States. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

00:46:50 - Eradicating dumps and focusing on education

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Partial Transcript: I'm trying to think of what other questions I might've had about the program.

Segment Synopsis: Thomas discusses the evolution of dump-eradication projects and the differences between counties and how they prioritize cleaning up the environment. He also discusses how PRIDE has no regulatory authority and how it aims to stay out of local politics.

Keywords: Dumps; Education; Garbage dumps; Local politics; Politics; Regulations

Subjects: Environmental education.; Environmental protection; Environmentalism; Kentucky.; Pollution.; Refuse and refuse disposal.; Waste disposal sites

00:53:39 - Future goals of PRIDE

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Partial Transcript: So what do you see as your role in the, in the next year--few years as the--as some of the shift goes away from dumps and things like that, more into education and...

Segment Synopsis: Thomas discusses the future of PRIDE and moving forward with a focus on education throughout Kentucky. He discusses the building of Riverwoods, a school focused on environmental education for kids.

Keywords: Children; Education; Environment; Kids; Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment (PRIDE); Riverwoods; Schools

Subjects: Environmental education.; Environmental protection; Environmentalism; Kentucky.; Pollution.

00:55:28 - Riverwoods and environmental education

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Partial Transcript: Uh, this, um, education facility, Riverwood, now, is that going to be accredited?

Segment Synopsis: Thomas describes the proposed Riverwoods school and its purpose in educating the public on environmental issues, focused on local environmental care and hands-on education.

Keywords: Education; Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA); Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment (PRIDE); Riverwoods; Schools

Subjects: Environmental education; Environmental protection; Environmentalism; Kentucky.; Pollution.

00:58:25 - Interview conclusion

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Partial Transcript: Well I, I guess for now that's a good thing. I'm sure I'll have questions from you.

Segment Synopsis: Dale Johnson concludes the interview.