JEFFERSON — Just months after the passing of North Carolina State Senator Steve Goss, local officials are working together towards the possibility of naming a section of U.S. 221 in honor of Goss and the legacy he left behind.
Goss, who died Oct. 26 following a brief battle with cancer, served the people of Alexander, Ashe, Watauga and Wilkes Counties for two terms, from 2007 to 2010, as a Democratic member of the North Carolina State Senate.
According to Jefferson Aldermen Charles Caudill, during his time as a senator, Goss – along with former NC House member Cullie Tarleton – was instrumental in the U.S. 221 expansion project which is transforming the curvy two-lane road into a four-lane highway with a divided median. For this reason, he believes naming a portion of U.S. 221 in Goss’s honor to be a fitting tribute.
“I truly believe he was the best person I’ve ever known,” Caudill said. “It’s a wonderful way to honor him. He certainly was deserving.”
Caudill first proposed the idea of naming the first completed section of US-221 – stretching from the intersection of NC-194 in Baldwin to the intersection of NC-163 in West Jefferson – during a Jefferson Board of Aldermen meeting on Dec. 29.
That same night, the board voted unanimously to write a resolution asking the North Carolina Department of Transportation to name the section after Goss.
“He was all about people – helping people, encouraging people,” Caudill said. “He was a very special fellow.”
The U.S. 221 expansion project has been in development for years now, but Vannoy Construction only started work on the project in April of this year. The massive $154 million project will take at least 15 years to finish, according to NCDOT officials, which puts the completion date sometime in early 2030.
But Caudill said that it’s because of Goss that the work has started this soon.
“When Senator Goss was in Raleigh, he was the one who really got this project moved up on the list,” Caudill said. “If he hadn’t of done that, there’s no telling how long it would’ve been till they would’ve started working on it.”
Caudill said he has been working on getting the section named for Goss with the help of Ashe County Commissioner Gary Roark, who is supportive of the idea.
“Charles and I discussed it back in November,” Roark said. “I told him that would be the best thing to do to have something to remember Steve by.”
According to Roark, he has been discussing the logistics of naming the section for Goss with Division Roadside Environmental Engineer Michael Pettyjohn while Caudill is now working with Goss’ wife, Phyllis, to get the paperwork ready to submit to NCDOT.
Roark also hopes that during the next Ashe County Board of Commissioners meeting, the board can discuss the possibility of passing their own resolution in support of naming the U.S. 221 section after Goss.
“That’s the least we can do,” Roark said. “We are a small county and to have a senator represent us and as much as he did for Ashe County and the young people of Ashe County, that’s the least that we can do.”
Hannah Myers can be reached at 336-846-7164 or on Twitter @cmedia_hmyers.