Board agrees to rename stretch of highway
By Karissa Minn
SALISBURY — The Rowan County Board of Commissioners unanimously agreed Monday to name a portion of N.C. 601 in memory of former U.S. Rep. Earl B. Ruth.
The 5.15-mile stretch of highway from the Davie County line to the intersection with Jake Alexander Boulevard will now be named the Congressman Earl B. Ruth Memorial Highway.
Addresses along the route will remain as they are, but signs will be erected noting the new name.
County Manager Gary said the designation was requested by Mac Butner and Ruth’s family.
Commissioner Jim Sides made the motion to approve the renaming.
“There has been overwhelming support via emails and phone conversations in relation to this recognition,” Sides said.
Ford seconded the motion, adding that former Gov. Jim Holshouser, former Gov. Jim Martin, former Sen. Jim Broyill and others have contacted the county in support of the change.
The board unanimously approved the resolution, which includes a request to the North Carolina Department of Transportation to provide signage displaying the new name.
Ruth was born in Spencer on Feb. 7, 1916. He was a basketball standout at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and served for many years as a coach and dean of students at Catawba College. He was a member of Salisbury City Council.
A Republican, Ruth was elected to Congress representing the 8th District in 1968 and won re-election two times. After Richard Nixon resigned in the wake of Watergate, voters ousted Ruth and many other Republican congressmen in 1974. Ruth went on to serve as governor of American Samoa briefly. He died in 1989.
Local political activist Mac Butner first proposed the designation in Ruth’s memory. A Republican, Butner was secretary of the 8th District GOP and supported Ruth’s congressional campaigns.
“I just felt this little recognition was long overdue,” Butner said Monday afternoon.
The Ruth family, including Jackie Burleson of Salisbury, joined the effort and appeared at the county commissioners’ meeting Monday.
Materials presented to commissioners included a letter of endorsement from former U.S. Sen. Jim Broyhill, who recalled that people in Salisbury continued to call Ruth “Coach” after he was elected to Congress. “He had a most distinguished career,” Broyhill wrote.
When Ruth was elected in 1968, he was the first Rowan Countian to serve in the U.S. House since 1905. No one from Rowan has held the post since then, though the community has had a U.S. senator, Elizabeth Dole.
Ruth died Aug. 15, 1989, in Salisbury and was interred in the National Cemetery.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.
In other business
Rowan County Commissioners also:
• Named Commissioner Jim Sides as its voting delegate at the 2011 annual conference of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners.
• Delayed a decision on a proposed road name of Indian Trail for a location northeast off the 2500 block of W. Innes St. The board agreed to see if the county and neighbors would accept Cedar Lane, a name suggested by a couple who live on the road and spoke against the change.
• Authorized the sheriff’s office to apply for a bulletproof vest partnership grant.
• Accepted $13,008 in Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant funds for the sheriff’s office to purchase five in-car video camera systems.
• Accepted $27,918 in additional WIC funds to support a part-time counselor for a peer counselor breastfeeding program.
• Approved budget amendments and board appointments.