0:00

MILLER: Okay. This is an interview for the Kentucky Transportation Center Oral History Project. The date is May 19, 2010, and we're at the home of Representative C.M. "Hank" Hancock's home at 3688 Georgetown Road. Um, and my name is Mardi Miller, M-a-r-d-i, last name Miller, M-i-l-l-e-r.

WHAYNE: And this is Laura Whayne, L-a-u-r-a W-h-a-y-n-e, and today is May twentieth.

MILLER: Oh. Thank you. Okay. And, uh, we are here interviewing today- -sir, if you'll spell your name for us.

HANCOCK: Uh, C.M. Hancock, H-a-n-c-o-c-k, alias Hank Hancock. (laughs)

MILLER: And, um, sir, if you could tell us what was your most recent 1:00position, um, and that organization's name and if, if you retired what year that occurred.

HANCOCK: Well, I am presently semi-retired. I still do, I'm sort of a government liaison, uh, part-time now. Um, I work sixty hours a week and get twelve hours of work done, so it's, uh, I'm not near as swift as I used to be. So I do, uh, research. I follow the legislative branch of government and, and actually the executive branch, too. I attend meetings that involve the construction industry, uh, and stay active in those type meetings. In fact, I attended one this morning of the, of the Department of Housing, Building, Construction, their annual board meeting which is now concentrating on energy, energy efficiency and construction, and, uh, there was some interesting debate on those issues this morning. So I still stay active in doing that. 2:00I, I, uh, have been doing that now for about, uh, five years. I, uh, retired from, from the--as the executive director of a group called the Kentucky Association of Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Contractors. I retired from that group in 2002, uh, and since then I have been doing the governmental affairs position for contractors. Prior to that, of course, I retired from the legislature in 1994 after twenty-one years of service, um, and I also was the owner/manager of, uh, a mechanical contracting company which, uh, was started by my father, uh, back in the, uh, late fifti-, mid-fifties sometime.

WHAYNE: What was the name of that company?

3:00

HANCOCK: Whitehead Hancock. Still in existence today. My brother and my nephew operate it today. Uh, it was started in, in--actually by a Charles N. Whitehead who was a former City Commissioner of Frankfort, and back in 1891 officially started until my father bought them out. In 1947, he purchased the company from them.

MILLER: Um, and do you have an office outside of your home?

HANCOCK: Uh, we have an association office that's available to me when I--but I do, actually, most of my work today is in my home in my little office at home.

MILLER: Um, if you could just in general tell us about, uh, yourself: where you're from originally, if you've always lived in Kentucky or--

HANCOCK: Well, basically I, I'm about a fifth generation Frankfortian. 4:00I grew up in Frankfort in both the county of Franklin County on a farm and the city also in south Frankfort. We, uh, we moved to the city in south Frankfort when I was about in the third grade and right next to the capitol building. In fact, you could look right out my front door and see the governor's mansion and, and, uh, sort of grew up in the surroundings of the capitol, and used to be an un-, a volunteer page for the legislators when they were in session and go get them candy bars and soft drinks and get tips off that. So--

MILLER: How old were you when you did that?

HANCOCK: Uh, I was probably, uh, less than ten years old, basically, less than ten years old because we--kids that age in those times roamed pretty freely without--(laughs)--fear of what some of the outside world might do to you. So my parents were able to be liberal with my time and allow me to do things like that, and all of the neighborhood kids and, uh, would do that. So basically it was, uh, below ten and up. - 5:00---------(??) growing up in the surroundings of the capitol, you know, we roller skated which was the biggest thing around there, and I even rode ponies in the capitol grounds right where we lived on Briar Cliff in south Frankfort. We--I, I was a rider for a fellow who trained and tamed ponies and, and then he would sell them to people with kids, and I would demonstrate the ponies--(Miller laughs)--for him. So the training grounds was the capitol grounds and the governor's mansion, and I actually used ,in my political campaigns, a picture of me riding on a pony in front of the governor's mansion. So--(laughs)--

MILLER: Well.

HANCOCK: --my connection with the state capitol and--not the political process, but the state capitol itself and, and south Frankfort and that area goes back a long way. On the other side of that coin is that both my sides of my family, maternal and paternal sides were, uh, hardly ever set foot in the capitol building. They were--their 6:00generation goes back to when they were some of the thirty-seven percent of Frankfortians that, that objected to this being the state capitol, the seat of government. Uh, they didn't want that contamination in Frankfort, so--(laughs)--uh, it's quite an interesting story that, that they--none of my, uh, forefathers had ever been in politics before except when I, when I got into it. They sort of involved in some of the local precinct elections and things like that but not actually involved in politics, you know.

MILLER: What brought your family from the country, then, into the city? The business?

HANCOCK: Actually, my father was the only one that decided that farming wasn't his forte, and, and, uh, he just decided that that work was not for him. Uh, he came, decided that he was going to, uh, come to town, put on a shirt and tie and work for Sears as a salesperson. And, and he did that and, and, uh, stayed in that, and then he decided to get 7:00into mechanical contracting business and he did that. That's what brought us to town after that.

MILLER: That must have ins-, would you say inspired future ambitions or--?

HANCOCK: Oh, well, inspired my ambitions?

MILLER: Yes, sir.

HANCOCK: Uh, I guess it did in a way. I always would--we enjoyed the farm and going back to the farm. We were kids, grew up with still both farms in the family and spent a lot of time, a lot of summertime especially on the farm, and that was back when the family would spend Sunday with every family member--(laughs)--and, uh, you stop and think about those days and you--literally, every Sunday you were either at one grandparent's house or the other grandparent's house for dinner or after church. You literally spent those days with the whole family coming in and deciding what--and we enjoyed the whole family get-together and had games and, and, uh, croquet and tennis and all the story-telling and everything, so it--that type of--I was very fortunate 8:00to have that type of life, young life.

MILLER: Do you recall growing up so close to the capitol grounds and the governor's mansion--uh, do you recall any events or early visitors that really made an impression on you?

HANCOCK: Oh, yeah. Yeah, there, there were events the entire time. All the governors we grew up with, when, when we, uh--I guess the most impressive governor that I was with when I began to realize a lot of it was Weatherby because Weatherby had children and we had a basketball court at--on the mansion grounds, and we could go up and play basketball and played, in fact, I dislocated my shoulder which would be a different thing then than today. I dislocated my shoulder on the, on the mansion grounds. (clears throat) They had to take me to a doctor, Doctor Coleman, and put it in--and I spent many years with that dislocation and finally had to end up with surgery on it. And I said, if that happened in today's time there would be a lawsuit, and I'd probably ----------(??) (laughs)--had just allowed them to play on 9:00the grounds then. But we had a great time, um, doing that, so I made up my mind early on that the best governor was the one that left the basketball goal up. (clears throat) Right after Weatherby went out, the Clements came in and took the goals down, so I decided I wouldn't ever vote for him if I ever got a chance to vote. So it was very simple, yes or no, how good they were, whether they left the basketball goal up or not. Um, as far as people, of course, the, the Derby parties that--we would stand outside--in fact, I used to sell--be able to stand outside the Derby and sell racing forms and Courier Journals to people who were going to the Derby parties. So all the stars or celebrities would come--and all the celebrities came to the governor's mansion then. I mean, that was a sure--if you're coming to Kentucky, you were going to the governor's mansion--we were able to meet those and in several cases got to, uh, get autographs from people. It was just really a fantastic, uh, opportunity to do that, but unfortunately 10:00there are a lot of--it's unbelievable that people in Frankfort--and I guess that's true anywhere. You don't even realize the state capitol exists. It's just another building in your hometown that sometime you might go see, you might not go see, but we, we enjoyed it.

MILLER: Do you recall the names of any of those early celebrities?

HANCOCK: Well, uh, "Hopalong" Cassidy was--(laughs)--came down there. Um, uh, we had, uh, oh, oh, Johnny Weissmuller was--got, got an autograph from him one time. Um, there were others in there. I should- -um, Jane Wyman, uh, was there. There, uh, they just--it escapes me now how many there were, but, uh, we were--of course, we got to see a couple of--well, that was later on, saw Carter, of course, and saw the 11:00presidents that would come in then. But, uh, it was a great time.

MILLER: Were there other, a lot of other kids in your area at that time?

HANCOCK: The capitol grounds, the capitol grounds was a playground. Uh, we had baseball games, football games and everything in the capitol grounds, and of course, uh, that's prior to the time of television so you, that was your entertainment. You did get out and you did do something then, uh, so we used the capitol grounds as the, as the playground for the whole community, so. And that even went through with my own kids when, uh, we, we ended up coming back and, and raising our family in south Frankfort. We built a new house out in west Frankfort, and when my sons were, let's see, five and three, built a brand new house out in a subdivision in west Frankfort and stayed there less than 12:00two years and I moved right back downtown to south Frankfort, which is very convenient with a family because of transportation, uh, getting from any side of town to the other. So it really worked out well.

MILLER: Uh, what did you do next then after, uh, said pony training and being a page?

HANCOCK: (laughs) Well, I went, uh--I told you I dislocated my shoulder in the governor's mansion, and I--oh, the unbelievable part before this is pony training, I was going to be a jockey. Now my three hundred pound bulk doesn't look like I was going to be a jockey at one time, but, but I, I--(laughs)--had every ambition of being a jockey at that stage. But, uh, we, uh, I, I played basketball in high school and was lucky enough to achieve a small scholarship to Bellarmine College, uh, for freshman year, you know, with Bellarmine to play basketball and had a scholarship, and they found out I couldn't play basketball so I, I went up there for one year and then I transferred and went to UK 13:00for the next three years. And, uh, did that and, uh, had intended on going to law school, and my father died when I was still at school--I was twenty-two years old--and, and I ended up taking over the, over the company, the plumbing/heating business. Stayed there, and sort of--that became my life.

WHAYNE: Uh-huh. What drew you to the, uh, to serve or to run for the legislature?

HANCOCK: You really want to go into all that?

WHAYNE: Well--(laughs)--

HANCOCK: I think it's an interesting story, but I'm not sure, I'm not sure anybody else would be--other than people that know me and know the real story. Of course, living in Frankfort it does--as you grow up in this city and the business world--you become a lot more acclimated to the political process than, say, my, my, uh, grandparents did and there, my uncles who stayed on the farm. You know, they could care less who was, uh, the governor or who was anything else as long as 14:00things went on, but you go, when you're in business in Frankfort and deal with the citizens that come in, with state employees--and, you know, another thing in our school life, our young school life, you know, every four years state employees changed, and so you had a lot of different classmates that would come in for four years, then they'd leave. So you, you got so you could be an extrovert or either that or you got so you were very much an introvert because you didn't want to make friends and lose them every four years. So we had the opportunity to meet new people all through school because they would change every four years, come in and work for state government and do that. So we had those, those opportunities to, uh, sort of be, uh--we weren't political, but we had the ability to find out they came in to work as state government employees. I, uh, I knew what the process was and sort of followed that, and I knew that in business, you had to be active in something that you, stay active with other things going on, so I became 15:00very involved in, in local things like the JCs. I was very involved in the JCs and very active--became--on the YMCA board. I coached little league basketball and worked very hard with that and worked with the Boy Scouts and became very active in those kinds of things and, um, worked towards building our, uh, new YMCA as I was growing up, and I, uh--(laughs)--we had a mayor that was a very good friend of mine--a mayor, an ex-mayor--and, and, uh, he decided that he was going to run for state representative and the incumbent state representative was also a friend of mine, uh, most of this through the JC Organization. And he was the incumbent and, uh, the person that was going to run, uh, was ousted because of political purposes and talked out of running 16:00because he was employed by a national company here in, in Frankfort, a distillery, and, uh, he sort of was ousted because the boss of the distillery got a phone call and told him he couldn't run. That's the way politics worked, and when they did that to him it made me so mad I said, "Well, they haven't got anything against me. They can't do that to me. I was working for myself." So after discussing this for a very, very frigid weekend with my wife--(laughs)--she said to me when I left on Monday morning to go back to work, she said, "Well, you might as well go on." She said, "You'll be upset with me for your life if you don't at least give it a try." So that's really basically how I got involved in, in the legislative process. Uh, I was upset with what they had done to--how they had used politics to keep someone from participating in the process, and, uh, and what an experience it was.

17:00

MILLER: Can you describe for us then your freshman year and, uh, some of your early experiences?

HANCOCK: Oh, yeah. It's, it's, uh--well, my freshman year was very much what I found out and came to realize that I knew a lot of the people. [phone rings] That's my phone. Don't worry about it. It's -------- --(??) But, uh, I knew a lot of the people that were in the legislature because of the statewide JC Organization, so it really helped me a lot. People that I had, I had known from Lexington/Owensboro/Bowling Green who were--participated in state JCs, all of a sudden I found myself really in, in good company; uh, not only that but I was able to talk freely with them, so it was a good experience. I, I was sort of--I guess the biggest shock I got as a freshman was realizing how 18:00much state government affected local government because I didn't--I wasn't really prepared for that. I wasn't prepared for the fact that, that everything that local government gets actually comes through the state, uh, the power to do anything locally. And, uh, and I always, I was surprised to find that, but I was a little repulsed when I found it because I thought local government was better at the local level than it was at the state or federal level. So that was my theory in life, in politics, and, but there were so many things that local government would come to you and be asking you for and I couldn't say, "Well, why are they coming to us? Why don't they just do that locally?" So--(laughs)--it's, and Kentucky's known for that. As you well know, we have the very lowest local taxes in the United States, practically--I think that still holds true--and the most state support 19:00and other things in other areas, so, uh, I was just, I was sort of, uh, dumbfounded to find that out. Um, other freshman experiences I, I, uh--we didn't have that--it wasn't that partisan. Of course, I ran against the per-, the incumbent that was, was, uh, strongly involved in party politics as well as I wasn't. Uh, I was a name-only type person and didn't participate in that very much, so, uh, my, my winning was a big surprise.

MILLER: Who did you run against?

HANCOCK: Uh, a fellow named Kenny Wood who is a very nice fellow, still living today and still here in Frankfort. He took the seat. Uh, he had the seat for one year from Bill Curlin who, uh, ran for Congress and, and served in Congress for one year and then decided, uh, not 20:00to seek reelection again after that. He took--John Breckenridge, uh, died, and Curlin took his place for that one term.

MILLER: What issues do you think got you elected over the incumbent? You mentioned it was maybe a surprise.

HANCOCK: Actually, the truth of the matter when you basically go back to the bottom line--and it has to be all kinds of things you have to put together and add up--but the bottom line, uh, um, family connection on both sides, long sides (??) of the family. Uh, my grandmother's side, they were very active in, in the, uh, Baptist church, and my grandmother played the organ, was choir leader at the Baptist church in, uh, west Frankfort. And, uh, my father on my side of the family were very much Catholic, Roman Catholic--(laughs)--so we took a combination of the two and the family and, uh, the, uh--I would say just if you have to look at the bottom line and figure it was the, uh, family itself that did it, and then of course when you take in the 21:00contacts that I, that I'd made in life through Boy Scouts and JCs and basketball and, uh, those type things--I'd served on the YMCA board. I was the chairman of the YMCA board, probably the youngest that ever served in that capacity, um, on that board. Uh, I served as--Boy Scout Council and did a lot of, a lot of community involvement and that and was very happy doing that. So that contact, I guess, plus the fact of the family, uh, things was probably the reason.

MILLER: How old were you when you began?

HANCOCK: I was thirty-six.

MILLER: Hmm. Um, were there other freshmen of note that same year that you'd care to mention?

HANCOCK: Freshman legislators?

MILLER: Yes, sir.

HANCOCK: Oh, yeah. In fact, we still have a strong bond today. We still--oh, uh, Adrian Arnold from Mt. Sterling and I were freshmen 22:00together. Don Stephens who is now over in Nicholasville and later on was head of education, we were freshmen together. John Berry from Newcastle was a freshman that year, freshman senator. We formed a, I believe--and I may be wrong on this, but we always thought we, we formed what we call was the first freshman caucus ever in existence. It included senate members and house members, and we had, we called for a--had a, the, uh, a legislative meeting, uh, prior to the legislature they called it in those days. And we'd go to Kentucky Dam Village in Gilbertsville and I don't know whether you've ever heard this or not, but that's the way they would sort of indoctrinate all legislators during that time, uh, with the governor coming in and telling you how things worked and what they were doing. And, uh, we, we formed what was called a freshman caucus, and I believe there 23:00were 34 members of the 138 in that group. And, uh, we formed that first--(laughs)--and, uh, were sort of met some resentment from some of the senior members, and I was elected the first caucus chairman of that, that freshman caucus. And, uh, Wendell Ford was governor, and so--you know, freshmen are supposed to sit and listen and not open their mouths. (laughs) We got that put across pretty heavily to us on some of the issues, but we continued to function and actually carried those meetings into the session in 1974. Had, had meetings and, um, went right on with it. Uh, Daisy Thaler, a state senator from, uh, Louisville then was--came back, and she was, I think, the next chairman of the committee, chairman, and then we alternated. Clayton Little 24:00from Pikeville, Kentucky, was a member of that, and so was--as I said before--Steve Beshear was part of all that, uh, group. Uh, but several of us have kept contact today; mostly Adrian Arnold and John Berry and Don Stephens and myself still pretty regularly get together. We had in 2004, we had a fifty-year reunion of that freshman class--I mean, thirty-year reunion--and, uh, it's amazing how many showed up.

MILLER: Um, do you recall some of the early legislative committees that you were maybe active with or took an interest in?

HANCOCK: (laughs) That's the reason that I ended up, uh, with so much in transportation. They, of course, with freshman legislators, they, they sort of just put you aside unless you had some really, exceptional 25:00political pull and--from the governor's office. You've got to understand that back then the governor really made the appointments. The governor appointed leadership. They appointed who was going to be where. They had everything to do with who was chairman of the committee and all that. Um, I mean, it just strictly was the governor's call (??). And every once in a while there was a renegade from the governor's office and they probably--in my life--only served when Louis Nunn became governor because the democrats, uh, finally you could see some part of the legislat-, and it was all political at that point. But--coming up--but otherwise, the governor's the one that appointed the chairman of each committee and the vice-chairman, and if you wanted the position you'd go to the governor to talk to him. Of course, I had defeated the then government (??), a friend of the governor's, so I knew there wasn't any sense in me going to talk to the governor. Uh, so one of the first committees they put me on was the transportation. It's--actually was called the highway safety, uh, um--my goodness--the Highway and Safety Committee instead 26:00of the Transportation Committee. It later became the Transportation Committee. Um, Jim Bruce, Representative Jim Bruce was the chairman, and he was the chairman because he, he was sort of--he had to be appointed to something. He didn't particularly like being chairman of that committee, and, uh, he was the chairman of the committee and Norbert Bloom was speaker of the house at that time and, and very much a Wendell Ford supporter. And they put me on the Transportation Committee. Put me on the Transportation Committee, the county's committee and, uh, even on the Agriculture Committee at some point. You had three committees that you, you joined, and I became involved in transportation and here I was a mechanical contractor, knew nothing about transportation at all. (laughs) And would sit in those meetings- 27:00-the meetings were held--I don't know if you're familiar with what's up there today, but the meetings were held right outside of the capitol, right outside of the house chamber. There were two offices: one little office on this side and one little office on that side. And you'd go in there and you'd have a little committee meeting, and you'd have to get out of there so the other committee could come in and be--and do that. Otherwise, all your work was done at your desk, and you'd go into this committee room and have the committee meeting and then you'd come out. So I ended up--anyway, ended up on the Transportation-- Highway and Safety Committee, and, uh, the next year, uh, Wendell ran for senate and went to senate unfinished term and, uh, Julian Carroll, of course, came in as governor at that time. And then they had a switch in leadership, and Bill Kenton from Lexington, uh, became the 28:00speaker of the house. And, uh, Bill and myself were friends and I'd worked with some things and, and, uh, with Bill, and I got on as, ended up getting the appointment as the chairman of the Transportation-- Highway and Safety Committee--and Transportation Committee.

MILLER: What year did you say that was?

HANCOCK: That was 1976. Nineteen seventy-six.

MILLER: Uh, do you recall, uh, some of the early projects then or what was, uh, what was--they were actively addressing at the time?

HANCOCK: Really and truly it still goes back--you've got to remember at that time you still, every note, every piece of legislation--well, maybe I shouldn't say every--but certainly there were issues that the governor took no issue on whatsoever, uh, but any particular issue that came to his notice either way that, that a person who was friendly 29:00to the administration that wanted either stopped or passed would go through the governor's office. You'd never, you'd never, ever pass anything that the governor didn't know about, that didn't, that didn't have the stamp of approval from the executive branch. Uh, so what you would do is basically just consider, uh, issues small, mostly insignificant issues that would come up, uh, during those times, uh, and would go back the direction of--the fate of it would be depending on what, what happened down in the governor's office and what came out of there. Uh, issues at that time were just about the same as they have been ever since where funding was a big issue that would come up. Of course, uh, toll roads and toll road charges were, were something that were in discussion, and building toll roads as far as transportation was concerned, uh, but other than that there really weren't a lot of issues that would come through.

MILLER: Were the parkways, uh--

HANCOCK: Parkways were being discussed then and how to finance 30:00them through bonding indebtedness, and, and, you know, there was a constitutional wrangle about the balanced budget and how far you go and if you borrowed money, how could it be in one legislative session and one governor couldn't commit the next governor to bonding indebtedness. As you well know they went around that, got around that, but-- (laughs)--with constitutional maneuvering and, and, uh, changed some issues and, of course, got the road fund dedicated, uh, the gasoline tax dedicated for the road fund which was, which was probably the big issue that finally, uh, salvaged our transportation in the whole of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. But there wasn't a lot in those early years until after that period of my life I remained on transportation, and I got elected speaker pro tem under Bill Kenton next in '78 and 31:00served that. And served in--as a speaker pro tem, I had to give up my chairmanship of that, but I was also at that time in--also put on the Appropriation and Revenue Committee which, as you know, that's probably the--one of the more powerful committees in the general assembly; still is today. And I served on the Transportation Committee but I also served on the Appropriation and Revenue Committee, and Clayton Little, they put him in--appointed him as chairman of the house Transportation Committee. And Helen Garrett was the chairman of the senate Transportation Committee, and then I served on A and R and, uh, as speaker pro tem I didn't serve as any chairman. But then when I, I got beat as speaker pro tem in the next session, and, and I ended up being the chairman of the Budget Review Committee on Transportation which began to--and this was the incoming of John Y. Brown, and that is the 32:00point where legislators through the leadership, people like Bill Kenton and, and through some of my own work and, and, uh, other legislators were looking for a more equal government between the legislative branch and executive branch. And, uh, we began to get some authority, the legislators did, and under that--coming with that authority also came the realization that possibly, uh, you could affect where those roads where built, which some people would say was--that's probably a bad idea, but it ended up, being on the Transportation Committee, we became very popular because you had--began to have some input whether you were going to get your local road or not. And so the Transportation Committee then became a pretty, pretty important committee that they 33:00started working on.

MILLER: And, uh, what, what year were you, um, speaker pro tem?

HANCOCK: Seventy-eight. Nineteen seventy-eight to eighty.

MILLER: And what years chairman of the budget--

HANCOCK: Wait a minute. Let me, let me back up here. Let me make sure I'm getting these--'78, '80, um, '76--Julian was there from '76 to '80. So no. I've got to back that up again. It's 1980 to '82. That's right. Nineteen eighty, eighty-two. We had the first free election, the first free election of the legislature that we've ever had in legislative leadership, and I was elected speaker pro tem. That was the first time that we ever were free to elect our own leadership.

34:00

MILLER: And, and you were in that position for a year?

HANCOCK: Yes. For two years.

MILLER: For two years.

HANCOCK: Uh-huh.

MILLER: And, uh, correct me if I'm wrong, but I guess it'd be somewhere around this time then that, uh, you maybe, maybe it was brought to your attention, um, what would eventually lead to the legislation for the Kentucky Transportation Center.

HANCOCK: It was, it was beginning to come about then. The--actually, research was--well, you know, let's be honest about it. Prior to, prior to this time there wasn't any need for a Calvin Grayson who was, of course, the secretary of transportation under ----------(??) and there wasn't any need for them to communicate with legislators. It, it--to a degree, they do today. Uh, if they had wanted something, they strictly talked to the governor about it or they didn't talk to anybody. Uh, there was sort of a standing rule there from the governor's office, the executive branch, "You don't talk to legislators. You talk to me, 35:00and, uh, I'll think about what I want them to do." And so it began to surface. The independence began to surface, and I think there was old Otto Ingram was over at the Department of Transportation and a great fellow and he was head of the rural road funds. And, and, uh, and you, uh, O.B. Arnold was in transportation. They finally began to start attending some of the meetings and, and, uh, started actually talking about transportation issues, and that's basically what led to the foundation of the center. Uh, if, if I remember correctly--and, you know, we're talking what? Fourteen, sixteen, twenty-six years ago. Right? Nineteen eighty-four--twenty-six. We began to realize 36:00that, that, uh, with the change in governors that there was a center that was funded out of some transportation money that I, I believe was strictly Calvin Grayson's, uh, I believe this was his dream child that he had himself. I'm--and it started coming forward what this was and how it worked, uh, and some of those things began to, to start talking to the legislative process and then they, uh, then we started airing it, talking about the center and then we started getting involved in, in how they would work. My, my big thing was--the reason I got so much active in transportation was because I was looking for all kinds of transportation. I had a, had a great hope that, that the river transportation would become part of the mode and rapid rail and still 37:00do today. I still do today, uh, feel like that some way or the other in this country or in this state that we have to look at rapid rail for some way, means of communication in our state. I still think today that, uh, barging coal down the Kentucky River is an alternative to ripping our roads apart and, uh, all the problems with safety that we have in some of the areas. Now, of course, the people at the railroad don't like--they never did--the people at the railroad used to shudder when I'd get up to start talking about this, but, uh, I--even--there's plenty of work still to be done even if they did use, uh, rivers or waterways to transport some of the heavy coal products and do that. But, uh, I became very involved in all-mode transportation ideas and, and, uh, dreams of, of how things could work, and, and it's through 38:00that feeling--Calvin knew that I felt that way because he's heard me too many times talk about it, and, uh, through that I think the idea that the center, uh, with its research modes and abilities and capabilities surely could carry out my dream. (laughs) So I, that's when I, when I first started hearing about it and first started talking about it, and I know that I--it seems like I remember basically--and I shouldn't say this because I don't know that Judge Ingram was--I'm sure that Judge Ingram was opposed to doing, setting up the funding mechanism of, of the center when we took it away from rural road funds, a percentage of rural road funds because I know that at that time the Municipal League opposed it and also KACo who was just getting started out began to, um, they didn't want those funds utilized out of the 39:00rural road funds at all. I don't think--they weren't opposed, that's a bad word to use--opposed to the center itself. They were opposed to the mode of funding and perhaps the way that, um, uh, that the board of the center was going to be made. I do remember there was some type, there was some controversy, a little bit of jealousy between the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky Engineering Department. That got involved in the concept somewhere. I remember discussion on that. I remember that we'd made a couple of visits to the engineering department and the center in Lexington, had committee meetings there--basically a couple of committee meetings there--um, and if I remember correctly it was a very narrow vote in 1984 that, that, um, by which the center was established. Um, and I don't remember what the vote was, but it was somewhere--it ended up--it was a senate bill, 40:00a senate bill. There were two bills introduced: um, a house bill and a senate bill somewhere (??) out of the inner work of the committee. Um, I think Representative Cyrus--again Clayton Little was the chairman of the Transportation Committee at that time. I was chairman of the Budget Subcommittee on Transportation. Um, it seemed like Ron Cyrus, who was on the Transportation Committee, was the sponsor of the house bill, the main sponsor of it along with--but, but I know that Senator Garrett in the, in the senate was the sponsor of the senate bill. I do know that, and, and, uh, the bill, uh, passed the senate with, with very little fanfare. I know it had some votes against it, but I think those were maybe locale votes in Louisville versus Lexington, uh, type 41:00things. And in the se-, in the house it was done very--in fact it was, it was one of those things that, uh, you know, the last five days of every legislative session are just hectic, I mean, crazy. Of all of the things that should have been done the month before, we're now waiting until the last minute to get done, and I know that the, uh, bill dealing with the center got caught up in that, in the last days, and emotion that was on it. And, and, and the reason that some of the bill votes may be against the senate bill were not actually against the bill itself but were based on the fact that the senate was not passing some of their bills, so they were mad at the senate because the senate wasn't passing some of their house bills. And so they would just vote against all the senate bills down there. (laughs) But that's, that's- -on the contrary, when people look at something like that and say, "Oh, 42:00boy. That just barely passed," well, the truth of the matter is there's a lot of other issues that went into it other than being opposed to the concept of creating the center. You know, somebody could basically make a statement, "Boy, they weren't very happy with that. They were against it." The truth of the matter is they weren't against it. There were other elements in the mix that would cause you to vote against it. If the senate wasn't being very friendly to your legislation, you just wouldn't be very friendly to their issues, but, uh, all this time I do remember Calvin Grayson lobbying and working himself to death to, to get this supported and, uh, uh, to get it done. Uh, Jack Fish, I remember Jack Fish with the, uh, he and better transportation. They, they were working hard for it, uh, trying to get it done, but I do remember that the Municipal League and KACo were opposed to it.

WHAYNE: What year was this? Do you know?

HANCOCK: I think 1984 maybe. Nineteen eighty-four. The original 43:00concept, the original, original legislation had, um, legislators on the board of the Kentucky Transportation Center, and, uh, wisely that got removed. That, uh, there was no reason for them to be on there on a research and because that could shroud it, uh, different ways. So they, that part was taken out, but I know in the community there was a lot of discussion about, "Well, who's going to watch these funds? And, There's going to be another amount of funds out there wasted in the bureaucracy," and, "Well, we'll just put legislators on there to make sure they don't get wasted." (laughs) So they--and that got taken out before the bill was even, uh, even considered, but it, it became a--from the senate's standpoint, it came very early. It was one of the early bills that were voted on, and I'm not sure that it didn't--I know we had to fight like the dickens to even get it heard because 44:00it got caught up in the jungle of other problems and, uh, and then it got--and it was basically funded by a straight appropriation then. The appropriation part of the bill where it--that didn't come until later. It was funded by a straight appropriation out of the budget and out of the, that ----------(??) fund, and that was, that was some of the opposition, too, was taking money out of the fund and putting the direct appropriation in. I think, I think the funding was something like $150,000 or something like that per year to, to go and, and then I remember Calvin coming back after that and finally getting the, I guess it's the present formula. Uh, it's one-tenth of one percent or something of the--isn't that what it is, the rule?

MILLER: Yes. It still is. Yeah.

WHAYNE: Yes. Yes, it is.

HANCOCK: One-tenth of one percent of, of the construction portion, isn't 45:00it? I don't know.

WHAYNE: I don't know.

HANCOCK: (laughs) I'm going out on a limb there. I don't, I don't remember exactly what it was.

MILLER: Um, what, what are some of your early memories of doing that site visit to the research buildings there at the University of Kentucky?

HANCOCK: They had on some programs up there that just were exceptional things that came out dealing with, I remember, especially with plastics and, uh, they were working on, and, uh, they were dealing with, uh, something in the inventory of, um, shredded tires was a big show at the time. Very efficient. Very nice, uh, very nice meeting that I remember, and everybody was well-impressed with them.

MILLER: Do you know if there were other states, um, that, that you all examined or, uh, researched to see if there was something similar?

46:00

HANCOCK: I'm sure we did, but I don't think so. I know we didn't--I know I was on--I became chairman of the Southern Legislative Conference Transportation Committee. I served as the chairman of that committee. I served as vice-chairman of the National Transportation Committee, um, on those particular issues, and we, we knew things were going--I, in fact, I remember giving a report, uh, to the--was that at the National Legislative Conference?--on the center. Uh, I gave a report about how the center was done, done, and I can't remember whether that was a Southern Legislative Conference meeting or a National Legislative Conference meeting.

MILLER: It was something ----------(??)

HANCOCK: It was in Atlanta.

MILLER: Okay.

HANCOCK: But anyway, I, I don't think that we utilized other states when 47:00we passed the bill. I think we might have been--probably not the only or the first or anything--but, uh, we were certainly first there. We- -because I remember giving this report to other legislators from other states, uh, about what we did in Kentucky with it.

MILLER: Uh, was there any involvement of the Federal Highway Administration?

HANCOCK: Uh, there was. Um, they were, they, they--I remember they support it. I can't remember, uh--it wouldn't have been Johnson would it with the Federal Transportation? Johnson?

MILLER: If you know roughly the year, we could look it, um, up.

HANCOCK: 1984 was--but I know they used to attend our, some of our meetings, and we'd bring them in and we'd discuss these issues. But I think the center itself, looking at what we were looking for, was 48:00not so much involved in looking at whether the federal would support it. Well, there weren't, I guess, matching funds. It seems to me like matching funds were the issue that we brought in and talked to federal, uh, some federal people about matching funds for the center. And there were--that's exactly right now that I, now that you mention that. There were quite a bit of, of federal funds available on matching that, that we, that--that's one of the arguments we used in passing the center, uh, because it gave us the opportunity to clearly assess the possibility of getting funds, uh, so yes. I do remember that now. (laughs) I remember some legislator on the legislation for the committee stands up and says, "Why don't you just send us the damn money instead of making us cow-tow?" (laughs)

49:00

MILLER: (laughs) Um, I, I guess maybe since its formation then, um, maybe thinking just more broadly about transportation in Kentucky what, uh, are some events or changes that you've seen occur statewide in transportation that you were either a part of or witnessed that made an impression on you?

HANCOCK: Well, I, I think one of, I, one of my disappointments I gave the biggest--and that's negative saying, negative. I, I've always--I, I chaired a committee in 1992 that went across the state looking for transportation needs that was, to me, a very involved committee. 50:00We met in several--got local governments involved in it to sit down and talk about their needs and assess their needs and ways to make transportation really available to the citizens of the commonwealth, and we, we came up with some legislation that hopefully that--long- range plan. Of course, this was development of the six-year plan, and, uh, and that to me was one of the great hopes that we had for a balanced transportation system in Kentucky and was just a viable, secure plan that you could really work with. And, and, uh, this legislation was assured that, that over time that everybody would have access within fifty miles to, to an interstate system that could get them in and out and through Kentucky and, and, uh, be able to communicate with the rest of Kentucky, and, uh, it was based strictly 51:00on that particular issue of need and where it was and the management of that and it was also based on some type of matching funds. Um, Secretary Milo Bryant--the first time that it was ever heard of that it got--made Scott County and Georgetown put up some money for their bypass, uh, and, um, that was the first time that the local government had been required to put up. And, you know, while I wasn't opposed to the idea, what I was opposed to was giving only certain people in Kentucky, only certain areas that opportunity to do that, and I passed legislation that Governor John Y. Brown--(laughs)--actually vetoed that allowed them to, to, uh--local government to buy for a certain, certain amount of money--and I don't remember what the amount was. I 52:00think it was something like a million and a half dollars--on a, on a fifty percent match for special projects within their community. And I, my thinking was there that, you know, every Kentuckian ought to have the opportunity to, to buy for some of this money if they wanted to put the matching funds up for it and do it, and, uh, I still think that way, too, that there is that opportunity if they're going to do it. However, on the other hand I just don't believe it should be left up to the people that have the money, the developers who have the money in a certain area and control that so they end up taking all the money from the rest of Kentucky in one area. So the, the six-year plan and the whole mode of transportation, it certainly would have relieved the contractors to know that every year that there was going to be a certain amount of construction in Kentucky and a certain 53:00amount of construction that they could depend on instead of going all out and spending all this money at one time in one area and then not having it next year to do this, and I was hoping to get some kind of a standard, ongoing program for Kentucky that would continue to improve our highways and transportation system. And as you well know, that never happened. The six-year plan got ----------(??) and took, and, uh, while I don't want to say it's to blame but actually it's true that that's the reason it sort of fell apart is because you ended up with legislative independence and legislators involved in making sure that their home project got funded. And depending on how much power that legislator from that district had, uh, you were--you got more done. I guess the--it's no surprise to anybody that Pete Worthington was the champion of all that. Pete Worthington, uh, basically funded the AA Highway through his, his commitment on transportation. I mean, 54:00solely, uh, that was his one goal in life regardless of whether the state, rest of the state had (??) a, a brick alley--(laughs)--and he did it very well. He, for his constituency, he served his constituency very well, and, uh, the truth of the matter is is the AA Highway would have never been built had it not been for Pete Worthington and had it not been for the legislative independence of, uh, him being able to do that lobbying and working for. (laughs) So, uh, that sort of mode is not, to me, it's not the best for the commonwealth, uh, and we end up in a situation where it's almost imperative now that a legislator takes something home, uh, whether it's a priority matter or not, just to their district. And I can't blame the legislator because that's what's, uh, what we've begun to--that's the society that we're in today. Uh, I don't know how we get around that. I don't know how to get around that. I, I believed and hoped that if I had passed that 55:00legislation that, uh, it would have given more serious--of course, you can change legislation every year, every other year, but, uh, it certainly needs something in there. It certainly needs a more orderly manner, standard manner for construction of, of highways in Kentucky.

MILLER: Do you recall if the center was involved in that six-year plan?

HANCOCK: Yes. That's the six-year--yes. They were. In fact, I think they very much favored the six-year plan and getting it. I know Calvin did and making long-range planning at that time to do it, and it was done. You know, I say the legislature, too. I mean, my gosh. We go back to Happy Chandler's highway and--(laughs)--all the different highways that came up and were named after a special governor and doing that, too. I mean, the governors had their particular--Wallace Wilkinson is 127 and, uh, some areas like that. So, um, yes. I think the center was definitely involved in the research and what was done. I know the center was involved in, uh, the committee that I 56:00was telling you about earlier--1992, '94--that we traveled all over the state. We, in fact, we--the federal government was involved in that, too. Um, Mr. Johnson--that's right--was, uh, the federal administrator at that time, and a part of our committee, actually a part of our committee because we had outside people on it. And, and I'm not sure that Calvin wasn't on that committee. This was a special legislative committee working with the Transportation Committee that went around the state and, uh, and had these hearings about what's good for transportation, and I expect there's some really good stuff there if somebody would ever bother to look it up in transportation and, and see the records of that committee. I know I was very, very disappointed that it didn't, uh, that it didn't go through then. Uh, Governor Jones for some reason could not see that that, that there was 57:00any need for that legislation, and, and I, I guess--and no reflection on particularly him or anything--but this idea that somebody's got to give up the idea of "I did it." (laughs) "I built it." You know, instead of, you know, the need for doing it, so--

MILLER: Uh, do you recall anyone else other than Calvin Grayson that maybe was involved from KTC at that time?

HANCOCK: Uh, I do, but I, no. I can't, I can't because, uh, I guess, Calvin was the most outspoken one that I worked with. And, uh--

MILLER: What did those public hearings yield? Um, just common needs?

HANCOCK: Uh, there was a, there was a lot of interest in those public hearings. We, we had, uh, we had rooms full of people. Uh, we 58:00had all of the county officials there. The city officials of every little community where you go into would all be involved. Uh, we had tremendous, uh, tremendous--one of the first things I ever remember talking about were the bridges from Louisville. It was the first public hearing we had, we had in Jefferson County, and some people came in opposed to those bridges. And that's the first time it ever hit me that why in the world would you be opposed to a bridge going--(laughs)- -if it would help you out, and--(laughs)--and I said something to the committee. I said, "You know, we've got a lot of people in Kentucky who want those bridges, so if you don't want them we'll take them someplace else." But I just, uh, it never dawned on me at that point that somebody would be opposed to the bridges, and of course as I got more into the subject matter I could see why they were opposed to some of it and that but--

WHAYNE: Do you remember how many meetings there were or where some of them were located besides Louisville?

HANCOCK: There were probably about twelve to--yes. Oh, yeah. They 59:00were, we were in Paducah, Owensboro, Bowling Green, uh, Pikeville, Ashland, um, all those areas. The entire state, we covered the entire state. Eck Rose was a senator on the committee, one of the senators on the committee.

MILLER: Um, what was the public response that you anticipated once KTC was established through legislation? Um, was it--did you expect large- scale public buy-in basically to the idea of research, better research to yield better decisions or were people--

HANCOCK: No. I think they were just nonchalant about the whole thing. 60:00I, I, uh, I don't think that there was that much enthusiasm, um, at what the--and it's not because of that. There are all kinds of things that you saw passed in the legislation which could, which should be utilized instead of reinventing the wheel. It seems we have a tendency to go out and try to solve a problem by completely starting from scratch again to reinvent it, when if you look back--and it's just like that, all the hearings that I was talking about and all the money that was spent on going all over the state with that transportation committee, I'm sure that's sitting drawing dust in our files. You know, and there were literally hundreds of people involved in that and, uh, some very good stuff that came out of it, um, and I don't know what the tendency is, why we feel like we have to just, uh, that we don't put enough, 61:00uh, credence on this research and side of it doing those things because those, usually if you look at something you'll go back and find where that study has already been done and you need to just take it and tweak it towards modern times. And I just don't think it's utilized enough. I don't think it even comes near being utilized enough. I think the center has got--I don't know what else you could do with all of the support to get people to understand it, what it is available to do, but, uh, you didn't--no. There was no great hoopla about it being passed. In fact, the truth of the matter is, uh, probably if you, probably on the other side they say, "Oh, you'll see. That's just another waste of government money, or something like that," uh, which is a negative-type thing that you get into at first. Uh, I think the center, uh, I think the center proved useful to us several times during the rest of my tenure on there. I don't know what the situation is today, of course, with the center. I, it might be very, very, uh, 62:00useful and being utilized by the committee. I don't know.

WHAYNE: On the legislation, uh, establishing the center, how specific was it as far as the setup or the, the programs of the center or, or what were the elements of the legislation?

HANCOCK: It was pretty wide open just to the research, and, and it kept referring to it that it didn't only include highways because I--(laughs)--insisted that not be a--it includes all modes of transportation. Uh, but it was pretty liberal. There weren't any tie- ups on that. The, uh, there were a couple of times as I said before, I remember there was a little bit of, um, of, uh, jealousy, uh, between Louisville and Lexington, uh, that got involved, and some people wanted it shared some way or the other, split up, and I didn't--I remember a couple of things like that. But, uh, I, I don't remember anything 63:00past that.

MILLER: Were you involved any in the Transportation Expo, um, that year it was held?

HANCOCK: No. No. I was not. Um, when was that held? That was held--

WHAYNE: I think 1992 for the bicentennial, I think.

HANCOCK: Yes.

WHAYNE: But I'm not--

HANCOCK: No, I wasn't. I wasn't involved with the--(laughs)--I, uh, was not involved, and of course I opposed, I opposed, uh, the bonding issues, um, after a couple of times. It came into bonding issues, and I opposed it for--I didn't oppose it because I know that we needed to build the roads. I opposed it because--and I still do today and sort 64:00of got on the outs with a couple of people in transportation at the time and even the governor's office--that, that, uh, the idea was to float this bond, go another $300 million in debt and build all these roads under this administration and the next administration pays for it. And I just absolutely opposed that. Mike Maloney who was the senate A and R person and myself both opposed it, and, uh, we--and the only way it passed, the truth of the matter is that the only way it passed is a little more home cooking, uh, pulled pork for some of those legislators. In fact, that's, uh, Pete, give it to him and here's where he got his highways. He said, "Yeah. I'll go and get your bond issue passed for you if you'll make sure my highway's in there." (laughs) You know, and, and, uh, it's, it was an issue that, uh, that- -and that goes back into the, the fair and expo you're talking about. I 65:00was sort of blackballed at that time for some of the feelings that I, I had opposed in some of those transportation things.

MILLER: What do you see maybe now, um, now that you're--have maybe taken a partial step back from things but, of course, are still involved--as primary challenges based in Kentucky transportation?

HANCOCK: I think, I think that we need to look at other transportation modes besides highway transportation. Uh, I think that the contractors have plenty of work to do out there that they could be doing on, on rapid rail, and I think we need to look into the real world about our oil, the use of gasoline, how much further it's going to take us when we it has to stop, traveling, uh, six lanes of single-passenger cars up and down the highways and, and do something different. Uh, and I don't think we've even touched that. I don't think we're even on the brim of it, as in it's, it's just, uh, I mean, it's certainly not going to be 66:00in my lifetime to worry about it, but somebody's going to have to face that challenge in the future.

MILLER: Uh-huh. And are you familiar with, um, the Technology Transfer Program at the center and, um, what, what they are doing to, um, help better inform the workforce and maybe help local governments receive trainings so that they--

HANCOCK: I'm really not. I know that that's part of, that's, I'm sure, part of it because as I've said I know enough meetings that, where I've seen that, uh, in writing somewhere, but I'm not familiar with how that's--

MILLER: Wow.

WHAYNE: Is there anything else you can think of relating to either the Kentucky Transportation Center or transportation in Kentucky that maybe we've missed or you want to highlight? Maybe we've covered it all.

HANCOCK: I think really and truly you could go on and on about the, the different, uh, areas of things that happened with, with transportation. 67:00Um, it's, I think it's, it's come a long way, and one remarkable thing is that Kentucky, Kentucky was always, to me, very, very fortunate to have the workforce that they had in the Department of Transportation and the, the transportation itself. I mean, there were people that actually worked within the Department of Transportation that, uh--the highest caliber of people and, and, um, a real brain trust for getting things done in this state, and I think we've been really fortunate with that, uh, over the years. ----------(??) I, uh--(laughs)--as I said, I, um, going back to the few appointments that the, that, uh, the governor would make to the Department of Transportation that at times I had problems with but went on, I guess one of the--I remember one 68:00time the, under Martha Layne Collins, Floyd Poor was the transportation secretary, and I wanted to put the helicopters under their aviation in the Department of Transportation. (laughs) And, uh--(laughs)--they disagreed with me that that's not a very good idea to do that, but, uh, there were some exciting times and some funny times when we go back into discussions that would, would happen with the transportation and discussions that I had, of course, with John Y. Brown and, and areas like that when, when you get into people who--of course, transportation wasn't the main issue with a lot of governors that, that came in, transportation itself. Uh, Governor Wilkinson certainly was concerned about 127, and he should have been. 127 was one of our big needs, uh, 69:00to modernize it, and it did open up--in my opinion. It opened up an area of Kentucky that needed to be opened up. So, um, I think that, uh, in some ways we've got to get back to where experts decide where highways go and what needs to be done there instead of, uh, just the decision of being made and bring it back to some, some local areas. And, uh, I don't know how you're going to cross that bridge, but it needs to be crossed.

MILLER: Well, thank you very much for your time. It's been an absolute pleasure, and we appreciate you participation.

HANCOCK: Well, I certainly hope so. I, I, uh, appreciate the time to ramble--(laughs)--about some things that, that will make you think I'm sure when we leave here and finish this conversation I'll start thinking about, "My goodness gracious. What about so and so?"

MILLER: Well, there's always opportunity for us to get together again if we need to, uh, to go back and add to it. We can do so.

70:00

HANCOCK: Well, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

MILLER: Thank you. This is the conclusion.

[Pause in recording.]

MILLER: This is a post-script to the interview of C.M. "Hank" Hancock on May 20, 2010. We wish to note also that C.M. Hancock was inducted into the Kentucky Transportation Center Hall of Fame in 1994 after twenty years of service as a representative of the fifty-seventh house district in the Kentucky Legislature. For all of those twenty years, he was involved in state transportation matters, and for over fifteen of those years he held a leadership role in transportation and budget legislation. The Kentucky Transportation Hall of Fame honors individuals for their foresight, dedication, leadership, perseverance and integrity that have significantly enhanced transportation centers and systems in the commonwealth. End.

71:00

[End of interview.]

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