NORTH MYRTLE BEACH — In his more than 50 years in public service, retired Sen. Dick Elliott said he is most proud of the work he’s done to improve the roads in Horry County and South Carolina, but added there’s more work to be done.
“Part of Highway 9 is named after me,” said the 77-year-old, proudly.
Elliott attended a reception thanking him for his time in office on Monday at North Myrtle Beach City Hall. He began his career in politics in 1961 on the North Myrtle Beach Council before eventually making his way to the Columbia as a state representative in 1982. He served as a senator from 1992 to 2012.
Working to get S.C. 9 widened is one of Elliott’s many accomplishments that stands out in North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley’s mind.
“He was vital in getting Highway 9 widened to four lanes,” she said. “That wasn’t just beneficial for tourism, but for moving people back and forth to the rural areas.”
Elliott said he worked hard to improve infrastructure for South Carolinians, working to pass the Highway Infrastructure Act and bringing roads to Horry County.
“The highway commission helped me get more roads built in Horry County than anyone else, I would guess,” he said.
Elliott said he hopes that the S.C. General Assembly is able to continue to work to improve roads.
“I hope they work on finishing up our highway system that is grossly inadequate,” he said.
Sen. Greg Hembree, who replaced Elliott’s to serve South Carolina’s 28th district this January, said he knows that infrastructure improvements were an important part of Elliott’s work.
“I know there are some road issues that he would like to (see) get done, like the widening of Highway 9 all the way out to 95,” Hembree said. “It’s still out there, it’s still on the list ... But the infrastructure issues are so daunting right now that getting any new projects is really hard to do with the need for the maintenance of roads.”
About 75 people gathered to at the reception Tuesday, most taking time to personally shake his hand and thank him for all he had done.
“He’s been the backbone to North Myrtle Beach,” said Horry County coroner Robert Edge. “He’s done a lot of things not just for North Myrtle Beach but for the county and the state ... He’s been a public servant all his life. And he’s never turned a deaf ear to anyone”
Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes echoed Edge’s sentiments.
“He’s been a great support to this area,” he said. “He always tried to get what was needed for the Grand Strand – not just North Myrtle Beach, but the whole Grand Strand area.”
Beyond the Grand Strand, Elliott said he would like to see education in all of South Carolina improve.
“I’d like [the General Assembly] to work on furthering education and take it to the next level,” he said. “We need better quality programs.”
Elliott said he knew it was time to retire after serving 30 years in the senate with perfect attendance.
“When you spend 30 years without missing a day in Columbia, you deserve to be able to retire,” he said.
But even though he’s no longer in Columbia, Elliot said he hasn’t fully retired. He still hopes to work to help his neighbors – his reason for getting into public office to begin with.
“I’ll be around when you need me,” he told Hatley during the reception. “I’ll be here for any of you when you need me.”
Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_MPrabhu.