PIKE COUNTY – June 11, 2012 – Herbie Deskins retired in 1998 after representing the people of House District 94 for 23 years in the Kentucky House of Representatives. On Friday, June 15, he will be honored during a ceremony designating KY 1384 from Cedar Creek in Pikeville to the Floyd County line “State Rep. Herbie Deskins Highway.”
The Kentucky General Assembly made the designation during the 2012 session through HJR 23, passed by both the Senate and House of Representatives and signed by Governor Steve Beshear.
During his tenure, the boundaries of the district he represented changed several times, including precincts in Floyd County along Mud Creek, and at one time a few precincts in Martin County. The entire time, however, the 94th Legislative District included about half of Pike County, from the Floyd County line through Pikeville and Johns Creek to Belfry and most of Pond Creek.
The son of a 35-year veteran of underground mining, Deskins was instrumental in passing laws related to coal mine safety for both underground and surface miners. He was also one of the authors of Kentucky’s primacy law, which gives the state primary oversight of federal regulations pertaining to permitting and reclamation.
Deskins joined then Rep. Clayton Little and other mountain legislators to establish the State Highway Plan, better known as the Six-Year Road Plan. This legislation moved decision-making about highway work from the Governor’s Office to the General Assembly. “Before the Road Plan became law,” Deskins said, “any governor could decide which roads and bridges were improved and which ones were ignored. Until Paul Patton, we had not had a governor from Eastern Kentucky in so long that our road work lagged way behind other areas of the state. When the power and responsibility for prioritizing road work moved to the General Assembly, the number of projects started to increase in Pike and Floyd counties.”
He supported the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA). “I don’t know that we passed a perfect bill,” Deskins said, but pointed out that changing the funding formula for education put all school systems in the state on a more level playing field. He supported scholarships for the newly-created Pikeville College School of Osteopathic Medicine, even though he abstained from voting on the measure because his daughter had applied to become a member of the school’s first class.
Deskins said that the hardest and most satisfying struggle during his years in the House was the fight to return more coal severance tax to coal-producing counties. “When I got there in 1975,” he explained, “the coal –producing counties were only getting back ten percent of the severance tax receipts. By the time I retired, we had successfully increased that to fifty percent.”
A graduate of the University of Kentucky and its College of Law, Deskins served six years in the US Army Reserves 100th Division, based in Lexington. He was a staff sergeant at the time of his honorable discharge in 1972.
Deskins is the son of the late Herbert Deskins Sr. and Grace Hounshell Deskins. He and his wife, the former Kathy Hinkle of Paintsville, have been married 47 years and are members of Cornerstone Christian Church in Pikeville. They are the parents of three children and six grandchildren. Herbert Deskins III (Trey) is a petroleum specialist for Whayne Supply. He and his wife, Amy, have two sons, Andrew, 7, and Jackson, 4. Daughter Jennifer Deskins Holbrook is an attorney who practices in Lexington with her husband, Jeremy Holbrook. They are the parents of two daughters, Lauren Kate, 9, and Caroline, 6. Dr. Suzanne Deskins Ford lives at Zebulon with her husband, Eric, and their two daughters, Emily, 8, and Layne, 5. Dr. Deskins is a graduate of the first class at the Pikeville College School of Osteopathic Medicine (now the University of Pikeville SOM),
Friday’s ceremony is set for 11 a.m. in the parking lot of Cornerstone Christian Church on Hambley Boulevard at the entrance to Fields Way. The public is invited to attend both the dedication event and lunch at the church immediately following. Among those participating are State Rep. Leslie Combs, who now holds the seat that Deskins once occupied, Pikeville attorney Jim Pruitt, Pastor Steve Knisley of Cornerstone Christian Church, and Laura Ford Hall. Trey Deskins will emcee the event at which Belfry DAV Chapter 141 will present colors and lead the Pledge of Allegiance.