Focus in the Fifth

Since I arrived on Capitol Hill in 1981, I have been in constant contact with leaders across southern and eastern Kentucky to address the unique needs in each county, as well as issues that span the entire district. From those conversations and meetings, I launched several initiates, taking a grassroots approach to make our region a better place to live.

Through several non-profit organizations and thousands of volunteers, we are creating jobs, cleaning our environment, attacking the drug epidemic head-on, beautifying our region, marketing tourism, providing educational scholarships, hosting performing arts and cultural events, training our workforce, working to improve homeland security and much more. Together, the employees and volunteers of each initiative are taking responsibility to do their own part to improve their communities and hometowns. For years, our youth had to leave our region to get educated and get a job. Today, we're making great strides in our future and creating our own opportunities for the up-coming leaders of our rural region.

I invite you to click on the initiatives listed below to learn more about what they do and how you can get involved.


PRIDE promotes Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment across 38 counties. In 1997, I co-founded the environmentally-charged program with the late General James Bickford, former Secretary of the Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet. PRIDE has invested funds in communities across our region for sanitary sewer and water projects, environmental education in the schools, as well as cleaning up trash along our roadsides, lakes and streams.


In 2003, a state newspaper dubbed our region a national epicenter for prescription drug abuse, citing an alarming rate of prescribed painkillers. In response to the epidemic, I joined leaders from across the region to launch UNITE and attack the problem through investigations, treatment and education.


One of the first organizations I developed focuses on growing jobs in our rural region, helping small businesses grow, and strives to diversify the region’s industries. SKED has helped create or retain thousands of jobs in southern and eastern Kentucky.


Established in 1996, The Center for Rural Development was designed to provide innovative programs in leadership, development, advanced telecommunications, technology, public safety and a variety of performing arts and cultural events.


The youngest initiative, the National Institute for Hometown Security (NIHS), was organized in 2004. The NIHS was developed with the specific mission to discover, develop and deploy solutions that protect and preserve the critical infrastructure of our nation’s communities through research projects aligned with the needs and requirements of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.