Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with H. Brown Wright, February 3, 2016

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Career overview

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Partial Transcript: --Uh--the following is an oral history interview conducted as part of the Tennessee Valley Authority Retirees Association Oral History pilot project.

Segment Synopsis: Wright provides an overview of the various positions he held throughout his career at TVA.

Keywords: 1982 World's Fair; 50th Anniversary Coordinator; Assessment; Commercialize products; Community assistance; Dam building; Diverse; Downtowns; Electric industry exhibit; Environmental Impact Statements; Evaluation; Exhibits; Facilities; Funding; Labs; Managers; Mitigation; National Environmental Policy Act; New; Normandy Dam (Tenn.); Reservoir building; Socio-economic impacts; Technological economic development; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Town Lift program; World's Fair Coordinator

Subjects: Barges; Career; Cumberland River (Ky. and Tenn.); Dams; Economic development; Job creation; Knoxville (Tenn.); Mississippi River; Nuclear power plants; Regional planners; Research; Technology; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority

GPS: Normandy Dam (Tenn.)
Map Coordinates: 35.465476, -86.24259
00:04:35 - Work in regional planning

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Partial Transcript: And--uh--we'll start with the regional planning.

Segment Synopsis: Wright briefly discusses his work in regional planning, primarily related to Normandy Reservoir on the Duck River in south-central Tennessee.

Keywords: Access; Completed; Dam construction; Data analysis; Expertise; Flooded; Industrial sites; Industry; Land use; Landscape; Normandy Dam (Tenn.); Opportunities for development; Plans; Reservoir creation; Residential; Road improvements; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Trade-offs; Tributary; Unnavigable

Subjects: Bedford County (Tenn.); Change; Coffee County (Tenn.); Dams; Data; Economic development; Floods; Infrastructure; Maps; Recreation; Regional planners; Regional planning; Reservoirs; Roads; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority

GPS: Normandy Dam (Tenn.)
Map Coordinates: 35.465476, -86.24259
00:07:41 - Specialists and regional planning

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Partial Transcript: What kind of specialists might of--be on a team that you would work with?

Segment Synopsis: Wright talks of the cooperation between different TVA specialists in recreation, industrial development and other departments with regional planning.

Keywords: Access; Barges; Benefits; Calculations; Characteristics; Cost benefit analysis; Deep water; Estimation; Facilities; Factors; Feasibility; Forestry; Industrial development; Land-use plan; Local parks; Navigable stream; State parks; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)

Subjects: Recreation; Regional planners; Regional planning; Soil scientists; Specialists; Study; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority

00:09:48 - Normandy Reservoir land planning

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Partial Transcript: I--I was chair of the committee that did the one from Normandy.

Segment Synopsis: Wright discusses elements of the land planning and implementation process in preparing for the reservoir.

Keywords: Appraisal; Counties; Developments; Flood storage; Implementation; Land clearance; Land loss; Local government; Normandy Dam (Tenn.); Plans; Potential; Price; Process; Purchase; Relocation assitance; Results; Satisfied; Small reservoirs; Structures; Subdivisions; Taking line; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Tree cutting; Tributary; Unhappy; Welcome

Subjects: Bedford County (Tenn.); Coffee County (Tenn.); Communities; Duck River (Tenn.); Federal government; Flood control; Industries; Landowners; Regional planners; Regional planning; Safety; Tennessee; Tennessee River; Tennessee Valley Authority; Trees; Zoning

GPS: Normandy Dam (Tenn.)
Map Coordinates: 35.465476, -86.24259
00:14:20 - Community assistance work

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Partial Transcript: Did your community assistance work then spin off of the Normandy project, or was that something different?

Segment Synopsis: Wright explains the role of the TVA in community assistance work related to the Town Lift program.

Keywords: Attractive; Community assistance; Concepts; Congress; Cosmetic issues; Declining; Downtowns; Free; Generalists; Help; Landscaping; Local government; Mayors; No construction; Plans; Private firms; Suggestions; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Town Lift Program; Traffic; Uplifted; Viable

Subjects: Architects; Business; Communities; Community development; Cooperation; Economic development; Economists; Infrastructure; Job creation; Landowners; Letters; Money; Participation; Planning; Popular; Regional planners; Regional planning; Rural; Specialists; State governments; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Traffic engineers

00:18:22 - Memories of community assistance work

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Partial Transcript: Do you have any--uh--special memories of your community assistance?

Segment Synopsis: Wright shares his most vivid memories of his time spent working in the community assistance realm of the TVA.

Keywords: Action; Colleagues; Community assistance; Crummy; Downtowns; Landscaping; Local governments; Mayors; Neglect; Positive; Pretty picture; Refurbished; Repainted; Requests; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Town Lift Program; Vacancies

Subjects: Benches; Communities; Community development; Economic development; Management; Memories; Regional planners; Regional planning; Staff; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Time; Traffic patterns; Trees

00:20:47 - Socioeconomic assessments

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Partial Transcript: You--uh--talked about doing and developing social economic assessments--

Segment Synopsis: Wright articulates the process by which he began to work on creating socioeconomic assessments of the impact of TVA nuclear power plant construction on small towns.

Keywords: Congressional appropriations; Construction; Environmental Impact Statements; Impact; Licensing; National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, NEPA (United States); Need; New; No precedent; Not documented; Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Operating force; Permanent; Power projects; Reports; Requirements; Safety analysis; Safety analysis reports; Scope; Smaller; Socioeconomic assessments; Socioeconomic impacts; Teams; Temporary; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Traffic; Workforce

Subjects: Analysis; Assessments and research; Commuters; Construction workers; Economic development; Electricity; Good; Infrastructure; Job creation; Nuclear power plants; Power; Regional planners; Regional planning; Rural; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority

00:25:20 - Workforce surveys / Infrastructure building

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Partial Transcript: Somebody had determined that we needed to, needed to survey the workforce...

Segment Synopsis: Wright explains how regional planners (including himself) applied prior workforce surveys to the TVA nuclear sites to determine the socioeconomic impacts of the influx of construction workers arriving to rural work sites. How these surveys assisted in infrastructure building and preparation for TVA is also mentioned.

Keywords: Beds; Boarding houses; Business opportunity; Coal plants; Daily commuters; Direct; Distance; Hartsville Nuclear Plant; Mitigation; Need; Outputs; Police cars; Prepared; Private sector; Public sector; Shifts; Socio-economic assessments; Starting point; TVA Cumberland Fossil Plant; Take-home pay; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Weekends; Weekly commuters

Subjects: Ambulances; Apartments; Assessments and research; Coal; Construction workers; Cumberland City (Tenn.); Data; Demographics; Economic development; Fire trucks; Hartsville (Tenn.); Housing; Infrastructure; Jails; Mobile homes; Nuclear power plants; Police; Regional planners; Regional planning; Rural; Schools; Surveys; Tennessee Valley Authority

00:28:55 - TVA nuclear sites / Factors of socioeconomic assessments

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Partial Transcript: It's 2016 now, and TVA has--uh--I guess, three nuclear sites.

Segment Synopsis: Wright lists all of the nuclear sites that the TVA began to construct, with some being left unfinished. Wright also talks of the considerations that most people do not think of when preparing for the impacts of a nuclear power plant upon a small community.

Keywords: Bellefonte Nuclear Plant (Ala.); Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant (Ala.); Cancelled; Community; Economical; Expensive; Farms; Federal requirements; Hartsville Nuclear Plant (Tenn.); Historic sites; Inquiries; Mitigation; Nuclear hazards; Nuclear sites; Phipps Bend Nuclear Power Plant (Tenn.); Project costs; Results; Sequoyah Nuclear Plant (Tenn.); Socioeconomic assessments; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Unfinished; Utilities; Watts Bar Nuclear Plant (Tenn.); Yellow Creek Nuclear Power Plant (Miss.)

Subjects: Architects; Assessments and research; Athens (Ala.); Construction workers; Decatur (Ala.); Economic development; Electricity; Engineers; Hamilton County (Tenn.); Hartsville (Tenn.); Hawkins County (Tenn.); Infrastructure; Jackson County (Ala.); Job creation; Methods; Model; Money; Nuclear energy; Nuclear power plants; Planning; Regional planners; Regional planning; Rhea County (Tenn.); Rural; Sharing; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Time; Tishomingo County (Miss.)

GPS: Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant (Ala.)
Map Coordinates: 34.703889, -87.118611
GPS: Sequoyah Nuclear Plant (Tenn.)
Map Coordinates: 35.226389, -85.091667
GPS: Watts Bar Nuclear Plant (Tenn.)
Map Coordinates: 35.602778, -84.789444
GPS: Bellefonte Nuclear Plant (Ala.)
Map Coordinates: 34.708611, -85.929167
GPS: Yellow Creek Nuclear Power Plant (Miss.)
Map Coordinates: 34.96, -88.21
GPS: Phipps Bend Nuclear Power Plant (Tenn.)
Map Coordinates: 36.466944, -82.8075
GPS: Hartsville Nuclear Plant (Tenn.)
Map Coordinates: 36.349167, -86.084167
00:33:52 - Change to World's Fair work

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Partial Transcript: Along comes the World's Fair.

Segment Synopsis: Wright details his change to the TVA Office of Information and how his new position as the World's Fair and 50th Anniversary Coordinator developed.

Keywords: 1982 World's Fair; Construction; Different; Energy exposition; Jack Barron; Justification; Nearby; Not rewarding; Office of Information; Phone calls; Regional Development program; Reusable; Spending; Stay; TVA 50th Anniversary; TVA Building; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Uninvolved; World's Fair and 50th Anniversary Coordinator

Subjects: Budget; Career; Change; Coincidence; Community development; Economic development; Knoxville (Tenn.); Management; Regional planners; Tennessee Valley Authority

00:37:45 - World's Fair exhibit and planning

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Partial Transcript: What did you end up doing?

Segment Synopsis: Wright discusses the process by which the TVA designed a dual-function exhibit for the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville and for the TVA 50th Anniversary celebration in 1983. How successful the exhibit was at the World's Fair is examined.

Keywords: 1982 World's Fair; Approved; Barge exhibit; Chattanooga office complex project; Chattanooga project; Chili Dean; China Exhibit; Commitment; Concepts; Construction; Design features; Dick Freeman; Energy theme; Engineering, Design and Construction Branch; Eye-opener; George Kimmons; Mobile; Non-power program; Office of Information; Open-air; Pedestrian bridge; Phone calls; Power program; Project Manager; Proposals; Riverfront; S. David Freeman; Suggestions; TVA 50th Anniversary; TVA Board; TVA Chief Architect; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Test structure; The Lilienthal; The Morgan; Valley Adventure Exhibit; Withers Adkins

Subjects: Architects; Architecture; Barges; Budget; Chattanooga (Tenn.); Design; Energy; Engineering; Exhibit; Flood control; Infrastructure; Money; Navigation; Paint; Planning; Railroads; Regional planners; Regional planning; Specialists; Successful; Sun; Tennessee; Tennessee River; Tennessee Valley Authority; Veto; Visitors

00:44:01 - Exhibit walk through

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Partial Transcript: Now for the--for the non-power barge, what were all the non-power activities that TVA was, was exhibiting?

Segment Synopsis: Wright gives a description of the TVA 1982 World's Fair exhibit, including the features, decorations and programs found within the exhibit.

Keywords: 1982 World's Fair; Activities; Adventure theater; Bill Landry; Commitment; Contained; Failure; Forestry; Franklin D. Roosevelt; Grateful; Heat pumps; Hosts; Live; Locks; Master of Ceremonies; Mistakes; Performance areas; Positive; Raptor Exhibit; Reservoirs; Reviews; Riverboat captains; Shows; Stages; TVA Retirees; TVA system; Tanks; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); The Lilienthal; The Morgan; Unhappy; Uniform; Valley Adventure Exhibit; World’s Fair exhibit walkthrough

Subjects: Barges; Chairs; Costume; Energy; Energy conservation; Exhibit; Figures; Knoxville (Tenn.); Maps; New Deal, 1933-1939; Norris Dam (Tenn.); Otters; Personality; Reservoirs; Soil conservation; Speech; Staff; Tennessee; Tennessee River; Tennessee Valley Authority; Volunteers; Water; Wildlife

00:49:40 - 50th anniversary of TVA tour / World's Fair stamp

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Partial Transcript: --Uh--we wintered the barges.

Segment Synopsis: Wright recalls the TVA 50th Anniversary tour along the Tennessee River. Wright briefly talks of a commemorative stamp that was created in honor of the TVA and its exhibit at the 1982 World's Fair.

Keywords: 1982 World's Fair; Adventure theater; Attractions; Commemorative stamps; May; Moving; Performers; Refurbished; Respectable; TVA 50th Anniversary Tour; TVA retirees; Talent shows; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Tours; Towboats; Weekends

Subjects: Barges; Children; Communities; Exhibit; Families; Knoxville (Tenn.); Norris Dam (Tenn.); People; Publicity; Spring; Staff; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Travel; Visitors; Volunteers; Winter

00:52:53 - Lessons of project management

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Partial Transcript: --And I also learned something about project management.

Segment Synopsis: Wright reveals some of the most important lessons he learned from being Project Manager of the TVA's 1982 World's Fair Exhibit.

Keywords: 1982 World's Fair; Bait; Enjoyed; Fabricated; Input; Opening day; Parked; Plans; Skeptical; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Unknown

Subjects: Barges; Carp; Design; Designers; Exhibit; Fisheries; Knoxville (Tenn.); Learning; Management; Participation; Popular; Project management; Publicity; Quality control; Steel; Structure; Successful; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; Time; Water

00:55:51 - Work in technological economic development

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Partial Transcript: And then--uh--the fiftieth anniversary was over...

Segment Synopsis: Wright characterizes his new role in the technological economic development area of the TVA.

Keywords: 1982 World's Fair; Bill Landry; Bill Willis; Commercialize products; Congress; Contacts; Fabrication; Generalists; Ill-defined; Market assessments; Office of Information; Office of Natural Resources; Over; Policy; Product market; Replacement; Results; TVA General Manager; TVA retirees; Technological economic development; Technology Transfer Act; Tennessee Technology Foundation; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Unclear

Subjects: Economic development; Federal government; Inventors; Job creation; Knoxville (Tenn.); Market; Market study; Marketing; Money; Radio; Regional planners; Research; Retirement; Technology; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority

01:01:00 - Technology brokering program

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Partial Transcript: Can't point to any tremendous successes. One thing we got into though, we called it the Technology Brokering Program.

Segment Synopsis: Wright discusses a technology brokering program that he helped maintain with TVA and other federal agencies. How the TVA helped the Department of Defense through this program during the Gulf War is discussed.

Keywords: Activities; Competitive bidding; Complicated; Contracts; Devices; Easy; Expedite; Federal funds; Firing mechanism; Gulf War; Local companies; Needs; Pride; Small; Suitcases; Targets; Technological economic development; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Timeline; U.S. Army

Subjects: Abuse; Cooperation; Europe; Germany; Government purchasing; Patriot missile; Persian Gulf; Research; Technology; Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; United States. Department of Defense

01:04:53 - Memories / Being hired at TVA

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Partial Transcript: --Uh--thinking of maybe some of your TVA memories--uh--is there anything that sticks out...

Segment Synopsis: Wright recalls some of his most vivid memories of TVA. Wright also discusses his personal connection to former TVA employee A.J. "Flash" Gray and how his influence led to Wright working at TVA.

Keywords: 1982 World's Fair; A.J. "Flash" Gray; Anti-nuclear; Appearance; Careful; Economic impact assessment; Enhanced; Excited; Farms; Graduate schools; Hartsville Nuclear Plant; Help; Hired; Houses; Impact; Job offers; Land-use planning; Landscape; Letter of recommendation; Local government; Neighbors; Planting; Presentations; Purchased; Reservoirs; Socio-economic assessments; TVA 50th Anniversary; TVA retirees; Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA); Uncles; Visits

Subjects: Barges; Birmingham (Ala.); Career; Communities; Cows; Data; Drawings; Engineers; Friend; Geography; Grazing; Hartsville (Tenn.); Interest; Knoxville (Tenn.); Meeting; Memories; Mentor; Painting; Regional planners; Study; Tennessee; Tennessee Tech University; Tennessee Valley Authority; Transfer; University of Tennessee