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Looking back at Mayor Bill Gorman's legacy

By: Steve Hensley Email
By: Steve Hensley Email

One year ago this weekend, the city of Hazard and eastern Kentucky lost one of its strongest supporters.

Former Mayor Bill Gorman was probably interviewed more on WYMT than anyone since we went on the air in 1985.

Since his death, WYMT's Steve Hensley has uncovered some of that video. and most of what he found has not been seen by anyone in years.

“We are the Queen City of the Mountains,” Bill Gorman said in a 1988 interview.

By 1988, he'd already been in office more than ten years.

In that same interview he had this prediction.

“The coal industry is the greatest industry we have, but it will not continue to be the greatest job producing industry, so we have to go in a different direction,” Gorman said.

In later years, Gorman would vigorously defend the coal industry and the practice of mountaintop removal.

“We are furnishing jobs, we're furnishing jobs, we're furnishing jobs,” Gorman said.

When the national media put what some called an unfair and negative spotlight on the region... Gorman always told us how he really felt.

“It was not typical of Appalachia, it was a slam on our people,” Gorman said.

“Campaign song-he has a vision, he has a plan, Mayor Bill Gorman he's our man!”

Gorman was first elected mayor in 1977 and served until his death on October 9th, 2010.

At his funeral, Congressman Hal Rogers talked about the last time he saw Gorman.

“With tears in his eyes and barely able to utter more words the last thing he said in that hospital room was... take care of my city,” Rogers said.

A monument was recently placed at Gorman's final resting place near downtown.

“Dad would love for people to come and visit him. I do invite people to come out and see this monument to him, I think that would make him real happy,” Billy Gorman Jr. said.

On one side of the monument it reads, "A man of vision who saw things not as they were, but as they could be."

Gorman was 86 years old when he died.

His widow, Nan, won a write-in election shortly after her husband's death. and she still serves as Hazard's Mayor.


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