Home | Trading Post | Hazard Blog | East Kentucky Message Board | HazardKentucky.com | Contact Us

Bill Morton died last week at the age of 95. There are some things you may not know about the former Hazard Mayor. 

Morton's family has been here for 100 years and his commitment to the area was deep. "My father came in here to work for Home Lumber Company after World War I in 1919," Morton told WSGS. "My mother came up from Perryville, KY near Danville to stay one month in the summer of 1922 and she stayed 26 years."

He entered politics in 1968 when he was elected as a Hazard City Commissioner. When he served on the local hospital board he pushed a plan to have doctors on duty at all times.

Bill brought to the task an education at Virginia Tech, which was a military college at the time, similar to VMI and The Citadel. His time there was interrupted by service in World War II. Characteristically he was a fighter pilot. Twenty-six missions over Europe. 

He was not fearful of controversy and met challenges head on.  The Courier Journal described his first three months as Mayor of Hazard, in 1970, as quiet as an interpreter's office at the bottom of the Tower of Babel. 

He loved for people to drop by his office at Home Lumber Company (of which he had been president since 1962). "I want to know what is happening...particularly if someone needs help," Morton said. 

He thought the whole city needed help when the local water supply was threatened by a strip mine operation. It was not that he was against coal mining, or surface mining in particular, but he thought he was right about this mine. The state Department of Reclamation apparently thought so, too.

Morton sometimes tangled with Willie Dawahare. City Commissioner Elizabeth Duncan once took the floor and read the riot act - quarreling at Morton for criticizing the previous mayor's administration. During heated exchanges at City Hall, his comments sometimes set several members of the audience gasping. He was a man of strong will and had a drive to do good, and right wrongs.

"I won't be satisfied with anything until we have placed Hazard on a firm financial basis," he said. "The payroll tax we are suggesting is absolutely essential if we are going to pay our debts and finance the kind of future we want." 

Morton felt that Hazard couldn't live comfortably with its romantic past, while other, less able towns built public buildings, revamped their downtown sections and improved educational facilities.