WILLIAMSBURG – U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) reflected on the high number of overdose deaths in the Fifth Congressional District and the increased amount of meth lab discoveries in and around the I-75 corridor to relay the urgency of support needed for the Whitley County UNITE Coalition on Wednesday, August 11, during a luncheon at the Williamsburg Tourism Center.

“We need your help to deliver hope to Whitley County,” said Rogers to the crowd of 175 people. “On average, there is one overdose death per week in every county in our region. We can help save those lives, but everyone needs to get involved with the local UNITE coalition.”

To commend local leaders for their dedication to Operation UNITE and PRIDE, Rogers presented seven “Hal Rogers Difference Maker” Awards. The awards were presented to: Williamsburg City Police Department; Hon. Cathy Prewitt, Chief District Judge and volunteer Juvenile Drug Court Judge for Whitley and McCreary Counties; Jennie Richardson, National Archery in the Schools Program Coordinator for Kentucky; Heather Alder Stewart, PRIDE Coordinator for Whitley County Schools; Willa Powers, Coordinator for Cumberland Falls and Laurel Lake Cleanups; Greg and Susie Razmus, sponsor for the Cumberland Falls Cleanup and Corbin Bypass Cleanup; Alvin Sharpe, Williamsburg Tourism Director.

Rogers presented a framed copy of a Congressional Tribute he made on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on behalf of former Whitley County Schools Superintendent, Lonnie Anderson. Congressman Rogers credited Anderson for saving the once-troubled school system from bankruptcy and creating programs to improve not only the education, but the lives of local students and families. His remarks are recorded in the U.S. Library of Congress.

Rogers also announced 2010 PRIDE Spring Cleanup results for Whitley County. Volunteers cleaned 80 miles of roadway, recovered 348 old tires and collected 1,235 bags of trash during the month of April. Rogers presented Williamsburg Independent with the First Place Trophy for recruiting 767 volunteers, the most in the school division, for the 2010 PRIDE Spring Cleanup. The Second Place Trophy was awarded to Corbin High School for recruiting 290 volunteers.

“Our region is being restored back to its natural beauty, thanks to the people who live and work here,” said Karen Engle, President and CEO of PRIDE and Operation UNITE. “With the help of volunteers our hillsides and streams are much more inviting. Each year, we are making a bigger difference.”

A record-breaking number of volunteers participated in the 2010 PRIDE Spring Cleanup. More than 31,200 individuals picked up trash along roadways, lakes and streams in April. Rogers also encouraged participation during the upcoming Roadside PRIDE event during the month of October.