Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Harold D. "Hal" Rogers, October 31, 2006

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries

 

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00:00:05 - Childhood in Barrier and Monticello, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Today is October 31st, 2006.

Segment Synopsis: Congressman Hal Rogers is introduced. He talks about his birthplace, Barrier, Kentucky, and the farm he grew up on. He talks about his father's store and his mother's job as postmaster. He talks about their lack of running water until they moved into the city of Monticello, and talks about how they disposed of their trash. He talks about what he did for fun as a child.

Keywords: Barrier (Ky.); Birthplace; City water; Congressman Hal Rogers; Country stores; Crops; Dangers; Deputy sheriffs; Doctors; Entertainment; Farms; Fathers; Friends; Fun; Games; Garbage disposal; General stores; Grist mills; Hobbies; Home births; Houses; Indoor plumbing; Monticello (Ky.); Mothers; Outdoors; Outhouses; Poor; Post offices; Postmasters; Poverty; Recreation; Rogers Hotel; Running water; Siblings; Sinkholes; Small communities; Small towns; Snakes; Sports; State science fairs; Toys; Trash; U.S. Representative Hal Rogers; Wells

Subjects: Childhood; Country life; Families.; Farm life.; Rural children; Rural conditions; Wayne County (Ky.)

GPS: Barrier (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 36.768889, -84.767222
00:07:46 - Early career

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Partial Transcript: Um, well I think you've already mentioned how your family made a living over the years.

Segment Synopsis: Rogers talks about taking a part-time job at a local radio station while in high school, which lead him to work at several radio stations in Tennessee and North Carolina after graduation. He talks about how the launch of Sputnik pushed him to pursue a degree in physics at the University of Kentucky. Rogers changed his major to journalism and then went to law school at UK. He talks about being offered a law partnership with John Y. Brown, Jr. but turned it down to return home to Somerset.

Keywords: Astronauts; Branch office; Careers; Claude Sullivan; College; Deejays (DJs); Dropping out; Earth-shaking events; Families; Franklin (N.C.); Interviews; Jackson (Tenn.); Job offers; Jobs; John Y. Brown, Jr.; John Y. Brown, Sr.; Law clerks; Law practice; Law school; Louisville (Ky.); Majors; Man on the street programs; Math; News bulletins; Occupations; Physics; Research; Rocketry; Russians; Satellites; Science; Somerset (Ky.); Sputnik; University of Kentucky (UK); Wayne County High School; Western Kentucky University (WKU)

Subjects: Education--Kentucky; Employment--Kentucky; Lawyers--Kentucky; Radio broadcasting--Kentucky; Radio programs.; Radio stations.

GPS: Somerset (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.083056, -84.609444
00:16:03 - Entry into politics

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Partial Transcript: And in nineteen sixty, uh, sev--uh, sixty nine, uh, I ran for, uh, uh, county attorney against the incumbent county attorney in the primary and was successful in that.

Segment Synopsis: Rogers talks about how he became involved in politics, first by running for county attorney, but then winning the election for Commonwealth Attorney. He talks about his inspiration for running for Congress.

Keywords: Ambition; Civic involvement; Commonwealth Attorney; Congress; County attorneys; Incumbent; Jaycees; John Sherman Cooper; Primaries; Public service; Pulaski County (Ky.); Rockcastle County (Ky.); Roscoe C. Tarter; Tim Lee Carter; Young Republicans

Subjects: Elections; Lawyers--Kentucky; Politicians--Kentucky; Politics and government

GPS: Pulaski County (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.083056, -84.609444
00:19:01 - Congressional career--Flood control projects

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Partial Transcript: And what year was that? Eighty? When you were--was fir--were first elected?

Segment Synopsis: Rogers talks about one of his early projects as a Congressman: a flood control project for his district in Eastern Kentucky. He describes the flood protections put in place for each city, including flood walls and cut-throughs. He talks about the success of the project.

Keywords: 5th Congressional District; Bypasses; Congressman; Corps of Engineers; Cumberland River; Cut-throughs; Flood control; Flood plains; Flood walls; Flooding; Minority party; Projects; Redistricting; Republican Party; Rivers

Subjects: Flood damage; Floods--Kentucky; House of Representatives; Politicians--Kentucky; Politicians--United States; Politics and government; United States. Congress

GPS: Cumberland River
Map Coordinates: 37.143333, -88.4075
00:23:39 - Congressional career--Appropriations Committee and job creation

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Partial Transcript: Uh, when I first, uh, went to Congress, uh, in my second term I was lucky enough to be placed on the Appropriations Committee.

Segment Synopsis: Rogers discusses his appointment to the Appropriations Committee and the subcommittee that focused on immigration, border patrol, and prisons, among other issues. He talks about the decision to build prisons in Eastern Kentucky in order to bring more jobs to the region.

Keywords: Appropriations Committee; Border patrol; Bureau of Prisons; Clay County (Ky.); Federal prisons; Funding; Immigration; Job creation; Job opportunities; Job recruitment; Jobs; Manchester (Ky.); Martin County (Ky.); McCreary County (Ky.); Out-migration; Subcommittees; Transportation Committee; U.S. Government; Whitesburg (Ky.)

Subjects: Employment--Kentucky; House of Representatives; Politicians--Kentucky; Politicians--United States; Politics and government; United States. Congress

GPS: Clay County (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.16, -83.71
00:30:10 - Congressional career--Homeland Security

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Partial Transcript: And then along comes 9/11.

Segment Synopsis: Rogers talks about his appointment to the subcommittee on Homeland Security after 9/11/2001. He talks about the issues they faced merging several organizations into the one Department of Homeland Security.

Keywords: Border patrol; Constitution; Customs; Department of Homeland Security; Mergers; Mexico; September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001; Subcommittee chairman; Terrorism

Subjects: House of Representatives; Politicians--Kentucky; Politicians--United States; Politics and government; United States. Congress

00:33:13 - Beginning the PRIDE initiative

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Partial Transcript: Um, I guess we've, we've done enough background probably leading up to, um, talking about the PRIDE initiative and why that was important to you.

Segment Synopsis: Rogers talks about how the PRIDE initiative began when he realized that his goals for the cleanup of Eastern Kentucky aligned with those of Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary James Bickford. He talks about the economic, health, and other reasons they were interested in cleaning up the litter and water pollutants in the area. He talks about their partnership with agencies such as the Corps of Engineers and the EPA to secure funding and labor sources. He talks about their worries in asking for the cooperation of local elected officials, and talks about their reactions to the plan during a meeting in Hazard, Kentucky in 1997.

Keywords: Cleanup; Corps of Engineers; County judges; Eastern Kentucky; Economic issues; Enforcement of law; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Federal government; Garbage; Government agencies; Hazard (Ky.); Health issues; Highways; Litter; Local officials; Mayors; Meetings; National Forest Service; Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary James Bickford; Natural resources; Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment (PRIDE); Plans; Raw sewage; Reactions; Rivers; Speeches; State government; Streams; Three-prong plan; Trash; Volunteers; Water

Subjects: Environmental education.; Environmental law.; Environmental protection--Kentucky; Environmentalism; House of Representatives; Politicians--Kentucky; Politicians--United States; Politics and government; Pollution.; Refuse and refuse disposal.; United States. Congress; Waste disposal sites; Water quality.

GPS: Hazard (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.248611, -83.195
00:42:06 - Results of the PRIDE initiative

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Partial Transcript: From there we went, uh, back home and we got the, uh, uh, communities involved--volunteers.

Segment Synopsis: Rogers gives statistics and facts about the success of the PRIDE program. He talks about his surprise at the number of volunteers the program has had and its continual growth every year. He talks about how the program's success has been even wider-reaching than they expected, prompting people to begin other life improvement projects in the area.

Keywords: Appliances; Assistance; Beautification; Change of attitude; Cleanup; Dumps; Effects; Expectations; Funding; Government agencies; Growth; Impact; Litter; Models; Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment (PRIDE); Pride; Rivers; Self-confidence; Self-esteem; Self-satisfaction; Statistics; Streams; Success; Surprising; Templates; Tires; Trash; Volunteers; Water

Subjects: Environmental education.; Environmental protection--Kentucky; Environmentalism; House of Representatives; Politicians--Kentucky; Politicians--United States; Politics and government; Pollution.; Refuse and refuse disposal.; United States. Congress; Waste disposal sites; Water quality.

00:47:32 - PRIDE design and funding process

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Partial Transcript: Um, I want to be sure to, um, ask you just some details about the process that you went through creating PRIDE.

Segment Synopsis: Rogers talks more about the process of creating the PRIDE program and securing funding from both the state and federal government. He talks about the importance of educating the younger generations so that the pollution problems will not continue into the future. He talks about their work replacing straight pipes in Eastern Kentucky in order to reduce water pollution.

Keywords: Awards; Changes; Children; City water; Coal camps; Corps of Engineers; County officials; Designs; Eastern Kentucky; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Federal government; Funding; Grants; Models; Modifications; Money; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary James Bickford; PRIDE clubs; Parents; Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment (PRIDE); Poor; Poverty; Schools; Septic tanks; Sewage; Spring cleanup; State government; Straight pipes; Strategies; Templates; Vision; Volunteers; Waste water; Waterways

Subjects: Environmental education.; Environmental protection--Kentucky; Environmentalism; House of Representatives; Politicians--Kentucky; Politicians--United States; Politics and government; Pollution.; Refuse and refuse disposal.; United States. Congress; Waste disposal sites; Water quality.

00:54:44 - Memorable moments from the PRIDE initiative

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Partial Transcript: Well, we're looking back on ten years now.

Segment Synopsis: Rogers tells stories about some memorable moments from PRIDE cleanup projects, focusing mainly on the younger generations. He talks about a million dollar dump cleanup, and a surprisingly successful appliance cleanup program.

Keywords: Accomplishments; Appliances; Breathitt County (Ky.); Chairlifts; Children; Cleanup; Costs; Courthouses; Creeks; Dumps; Fish; Governor Paul Patton; John boats; Litter; Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary James Bickford; Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment (PRIDE); Rappelling; Successful; Trash; Volunteers

Subjects: Environmental education.; Environmental protection--Kentucky; Environmentalism; House of Representatives; Politicians--Kentucky; Politicians--United States; Politics and government; Pollution.; Refuse and refuse disposal.; United States. Congress; Waste disposal sites; Water quality.

GPS: Breathitt County (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.52, -83.32
00:59:24 - PRIDE initiative challenges

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Partial Transcript: Um, and of course we know now PRIDE has been very successful.

Segment Synopsis: Rogers discusses some of the problems they have faced in implementing the PRIDE program, including securing sources of funding each year as well as the struggle to maintain volunteer interest in the project.

Keywords: Annual funding; Attitudes; Challenges; Commitments; Continuing project; Earmarks; Federal budgets; Generations; Habits; Ongoing projects; Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment (PRIDE); Pitfalls; Worries; Young people

Subjects: Environmental education.; Environmental protection--Kentucky; Environmentalism; House of Representatives; Politicians--Kentucky; Politicians--United States; Politics and government; Pollution.; Refuse and refuse disposal.; United States. Congress; Waste disposal sites; Water quality.

01:02:25 - Advice to others creating PRIDE-like programs

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Partial Transcript: As far as lessons you've learned over these ten years with PRIDE, um, perhaps a good way to get at that would be when, uh, now Governor Fletcher, Ernie Fletcher was in Congress...

Segment Synopsis: Rogers talks about the advice he gave to Ernie Fletcher who began a similar program in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky. He talks about the challenges of securing funding and maintaining volunteer interest. He talks about why he believes PRIDE has been so successful in Eastern Kentucky.

Keywords: Advice; Bluegrass PRIDE; Budgets; Causes; Commitments; Competition; Counties; Eastern Kentucky; Federal funding; Funding; Governor Ernie Fletcher; Lessons; Money; Motivation; Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary James Bickford; Perseverance; Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment (PRIDE); Personal pride; Rewards; Richard Thomas; State funding; Volunteers; Words of wisdom

Subjects: Environmental education.; Environmental protection--Kentucky; Environmentalism; House of Representatives; Politicians--Kentucky; Politicians--United States; Politics and government; Pollution.; Refuse and refuse disposal.; United States. Congress; Waste disposal sites; Water quality.

GPS: Lexington (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.029722, -84.494722
01:07:04 - Hopes for the future of PRIDE

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Partial Transcript: Well, what about the future?

Segment Synopsis: Rogers discusses his hopes for the future of PRIDE and for the future of Kentucky's environment. He talks more about the importance of educating younger generations in order to avoid more pollution problems in the future. He talks about his hopes of building an institution to be used for environmental education.

Keywords: Boonesboro (Ky.); Children; Daniel Boone; Future; Generations; Goals; Institutes; John Y. Brown; Kentucky River; Land; Litter; PRIDE clubs; Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment (PRIDE); Procedures; Progress; River Woods; Schools; Sources; Teaching; Vision; Water cleanup; Water samples; Water testing; Young people

Subjects: Environmental education.; Environmental protection--Kentucky; Environmentalism; House of Representatives; Politicians--Kentucky; Politicians--United States; Politics and government; Pollution.; Refuse and refuse disposal.; United States. Congress; Waste disposal sites; Water quality.

GPS: Kentucky River
Map Coordinates: 38.683333, -85.188333
01:12:16 - Stories about volunteers and participants affected by PRIDE

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Partial Transcript: Well, one of the doubts we had early on was whether or not we could get enough volunteers to make this work.

Segment Synopsis: Rogers tells a story of meeting a grandfather during a PRIDE cleanup project and learning his reasons for volunteering. He tells a story about County Judge Denny Ray Noble's involvement in the project and how he surprisingly used it to his advantage during election season. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Casey County (Ky.); Children; Cleanup; Constituents; Convincing; County judges; Criticism; Denny Ray Noble; Doubts; Elected officials; Future; Gloves; Interest; Littering; Motivation; Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment (PRIDE); Public opinion; Re-election; Surprise; Trash; Volunteers; Worries

Subjects: Environmental education.; Environmental protection--Kentucky; Environmentalism; House of Representatives; Political campaigns--Kentucky; Politicians--Kentucky; Politicians--United States; Politics and government; Pollution.; Refuse and refuse disposal.; United States. Congress; Waste disposal sites; Water quality.

GPS: Casey County (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.32, -84.93