Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet Secretary Lajuana S. Wilcher Resigns

Press Release Date:  Thursday, September 07, 2006  
Contact Information:  Jodi Whitaker

Mark York

Teresa Hill named EPPC Secretary

FRANKFORT, Ky. – LaJuana S. Wilcher, secretary of the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet (EPPC), announced her resignation today. The resignation is effective Sept. 30, 2006.

“It has been an honor to serve as the first secretary of the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet and an honor to serve in your administration,” Wilcher wrote to Governor Ernie Fletcher. “As you know, I have served the citizens of the Commonwealth longer than either of us anticipated, but the times and circumstances seemed to dictate that was the better course to follow at the time.”

“LaJuana has been unfailing in her efforts to protect Kentucky’s workers and the environment while growing our economy,” said Governor Fletcher. “She brought together diverse programs and people, worked tirelessly to help strengthen communities across the state through rational regulation and unbiased enforcement of the laws of the Commonwealth.”

Governor Fletcher announced that Teresa J. Hill, vice chairman of the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC), has been selected to become the new secretary of EPPC.

“Teresa has served the citizens of the Commonwealth at the Public Service Commission, in my office and in the Commerce Cabinet,” said Governor Fletcher. “Her experience in public service and in private practice as an attorney will serve her well in this new position.”

After taking office in 2003, Governor Fletcher combined the former Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, Labor, and Public Protection cabinets to form EPPC. The new cabinet encompassed many of Kentucky’s regulatory agencies, including those regulating the environment, coal mining, horse racing, banking, insurance, occupational safety and health, workers’ compensation, housing, alcoholic beverage control, charitable gaming and professional boxing and wrestling.

“The EPPC team worked to have precedent-setting mine safety legislation passed by the General Assembly, as well as the nation’s first legislation addressing substance abuse in coal mines,” Wilcher said. “The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority adopted new race day medication rules and the Labor Department has implemented new fall protection standards to help save the lives of people working at residential construction sites. We reached agreements with municipalities and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to address 68 percent of the discharges of raw sewage and stormwater flowing from combined sewer overflows. These efforts, and many more, could not have been accomplished without the support of Governor Fletcher and the dedicated work by so many EPPC employees.”

“I am returning to private law practice and consulting with English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley in Bowling Green,” Wilcher said. “I will also be able to devote more time to Scuffle Hill Farm, my farm in Alvaton, a long-time dream. I also plan to return to teaching law school classes and participate more in my church and public interest activities.”

Wilcher was originally named secretary of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet in 2003, soon after Governor Fletcher’s election. She began her public service by working as a naturalist and guide at Mammoth Cave National Park while she was a student at Western Kentucky University. She received a biology degree, followed by a law degree from the Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University.

She practiced law in her hometown, Bowling Green, Ky., before moving to Washington, D.C. and joining the EPA during the Reagan administration.

President George H.W. Bush nominated her – and the U.S. Senate confirmed her – as the EPA’s assistant administrator for water in 1989. For four years, she managed and helped plan EPA’s national programs for drinking water, wetlands, wastewater, ground water, oceans and estuaries.

After her federal service, Secretary Wilcher practiced law in Washington. She returned home to Kentucky in 2002.

While serving as EPPC secretary, Wilcher received the 2006 National Association of Clean Water Agencies State Public Service Award, the 2005 Chase Alumni Association Gold Medal Award and the 2004 Kentucky Home Builders Association of Kentucky Housing Hero Award.

Wilcher serves on the National Park System Advisory Board, the Board of Visitors of the Chase Law School and the advisory board of the Environmental Law Center at the University of Vermont, where she also has been an adjunct professor.

In November 2004, former Secretary of State Colin Powell appointed Wilcher to the United States National Commission for UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. She was reappointed by Condoleezza Rice in January.

“It has been my honor to serve the people of the Commonwealth and this administration in previous positions,” Hill said. “I look forward to this new and challenging role and to helping Governor Fletcher continue to build strong communities across Kentucky.”

Hill was appointed vice chairman of the PSC in August 2005. She had served previously on Governor Fletcher’s staff as executive director of boards and commissions and as executive director of legal services in the Commerce Cabinet.  A native of Whitley County, Hill is a graduate of the Salmon P. Chase College of Law and Morehead State University. Before her work at the Commerce Cabinet, Hill was a partner the law firm of Brown & Hill, PLLC, in Corbin, Ky. She practiced primarily in the areas of banking, business transactions and employment law.

Hill has served Corbin and Whitley County as a member of the Whitley County Solid Waste Advisory Board

She is the daughter of James and Sandra Hill, also of Corbin.