By Roger Alford
The Associated Press
HAZARD, Ky. - Descendants of Daniel Boone are furious over Kentucky's decision to drop the frontiersman's name from a mountain highway and give that honor to the area's congressman.
"This is a slap in the face to Daniel Boone and the entire Boone family," said Rochelle Cochran, president of the Boone Society, a national group of descendants of the famous explorer. "You may as well melt down the Liberty Bell. Do we not care about our history, about our founding fathers?"
Gov. Paul Patton's spokesman, Rusty Cheuvront, acknowledged Friday that the changing of the Daniel Boone Parkway to the Hal Rogers Parkway came at the governor's recommendation.
And Kentucky's transportation secretary only angered descendants further by saying it was about time the state started honoring some new heroes.
"There are no bears to slay, nor gaps to discover on treks to the West, so the heroes of our time follow new paths to greatness," Transportation Secretary James Codell III wrote in a letter to the Boone Society.
He added: "As events unfold and the present becomes the history of tomorrow, it becomes appropriate to honor those persons who are the heroes of today."
Rogers, a Republican from Somerset, has represented eastern Kentucky in Congress for 23 years and helped obtain the $13 million in federal funding that allowed the state to eliminate tolls on the parkway.
"Maybe Congressman Rogers is more well-known than I thought, but I had never heard of him before this came up," said Cochran, a resident of Hot Springs, Ark., who claims to be a distant niece in Boone's lineage.
"If the congressman had thought about it, it would have been a smart political move to decline having his name on the highway," she said.
"It would have made him look so much more like a statesman, rather than just a politician who brought home the pork."
A Rogers spokesman said Friday that the congressman would have no comment.
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