Stretch of U.S. 74 named in honor of Walter H. Dalton
RALEIGH – Leaders from the N.C. Department of Transportation and members of the Rutherford County Board of Commissioners today honored a former lieutenant governor with a road naming in the town where he grew up.
Walter Dalton, who served as North Carolina’s lieutenant governor from 2009-2013, now has a 5.8-mile stretch of U.S. 74 from U.S. 221 to the Polk County line named for him.
“This is my name on this sign,” Dalton said, “but there are hundreds, thousands of names that belong there.”
NCDOT Board Member William “Billy” Clark emceed the ceremony at Kiwanis Park in Rutherfordton on Monday featuring remarks from Rutherford County Commissioners.
“Walter, we thank you for your service to our community, our county and our state,” Rutherford County Commission chairman Bryan King said during his remarks. “You have spent countless hours on behalf of the citizens of Rutherford County. We thank you.”
Dalton was born in Rutherford County in 1949, earned his bachelor’s degree in Business from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, his juris doctorate from UNC School of Law and was a U.S. District Court clerk before entering private practice.
He held a North Carolina senate seat for six consecutive terms and was elected North Carolina’s 33rd Lieutenant Governor in 2008. Following his elected career, Dalton poured his time and effort into higher education, specifically as the fifth president of Isothermal Community College, to help provide educational opportunities for all.
Dalton has been a major proponent and advocate of expanding U.S. 221 to four lanes — first from the South Carolina line to U.S. 74 and the new bypass in development now. He played an instrumental role in switching the name of the U.S. 74-A corridor from a number and a letter to College Avenue in order to increase awareness of Isothermal Community College and the growth along this corridor. Dalton is also involved in helping U.S. 74 become an interstate route.
The NCDOT Board of Transportation approved a resolution dedicating the highway in honor of Dalton in March. The process for dedicating the highway included resolutions of support from the town of Rutherfordton, the Rutherford County Board of Commissioners, a character certification and three letters of recommendation.
King, vice chairman Alan Toney, plus commissioners Michael Benfeld, David Hunt, Greg Loveland, former commissioner Eddie Holland and former law partner Elizabeth Miller each delivered remarks on Monday.
Clark invited Dalton and his wife, Lucille, daughter Elizabeth and son Brian to help unveil replica signs printed by NCDOT. Dalton concluded the celebration with a few words of his own.
“When I campaigned, I used to say everybody in my district wants the same thing whether they’re republicans or democrats,” Dalton said. “I hope that this is some affirmation for the people I thanked earlier, that we did some things to help some people.”