First lady promotes Kentucky's historic preservation initiative

April 21, 2004|ANN R. HARNEY

First lady Laura Bush was in Louisville on Tuesday to raise cash for her husband's re-election campaign and to promote her historic preservation initiative, "Preserve America." Thirty-one Kentucky cities, including Danville and Harrodsburg, were designated by Mrs. Bush for inclusion in the initiative.

Altogether, 32 Kentucky cities are taking part - nearly half the nationwide total of 65.

"It really shows how important preservation is in Kentucky," said David Morgan, executive director of the Kentucky Heritage Council and the state historic preservation officer.

Mrs. Bush cited each community's preservation efforts.

Versailles, in Kentucky's Bluegrass region, was already on the list. It was one of the first eight cities in the country to receive the designation at a White House ceremony in January.

"Kentucky has a very great history, and I know people of Kentucky are proud of it," Mrs. Bush said. "But also we want our children to know."


While the "Preserve America" designation is not accompanied by a financial award, Mrs. Bush said there are monies available for which the communities may apply and possible tax breaks. Both Harrodsburg and Danville are Gold Cities in the Kentucky Renaissance Cities program.

Proposed budget includes $10 million for "Preserve America"

The president's proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 includes $10 million for "Preserve America" communities. Cities also will have signs touting their designation.

"When Mrs. Bush first announced the 'Preserve America' initiative, the Kentucky Heritage Council made a commitment to use this opportunity to demonstrate how important historic preservation is to the economy of Kentucky," said Morgan.

"How better to commemorate this year as the 25th anniversary of the Kentucky Main Street Program than to set a goal of having more communities designated as 'Preserve America' communities than any other state in the nation. And I am pleased to say we have achieved this goal."

Morgan told community representatives, "What better way to salute these achievements than to have Mrs. Laura Bush, the first lady of the United States, here to recognize you."

Mrs. Bush met very briefly with representatives of the 32 communities. Danville was represented by Julie Wagner, executive director of The Heart of Danville, the city's Main Street program, and City Commissioner Jamey Gay.

Harrodsburg was represented by Amy Sparrow, executive director of Harrodsburg First, the Main Street program in Harrodsburg, and Mayor Lonnie Campbell.

In her remarks to the group, Mrs. Bush quoted Kentucky writer Jesse Stuart, saying the state is the core of the nation and if the country were a body, Kentucky would be its heart. "Kentucky has done a great job of restoring its history," the first lady said.

She sees program as economic opportunity for communities

Mrs. Bush sees the "Preserve America" program as an economic opportunity for communities that are active in historic preservation and as an educational opportunity for citizens, especially young people.

"It is vital for every young person to learn his history," she said.

"The Bush administration has done more for this nation's historic preservation than any previous administration," said John Nau, chairman of the President's Advisory Council on History Preservation. "David Morgan's leadership has made Kentucky No. 1."

Nau said tourists could visit a "Preserve America" community in Kentucky for a month and stay in a different community each day.

Morgan also introduced Janice Scott of Boyle County, chairman of Preservation Kentucky.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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