Lawmakers propose renaming highway near Kennett for former gove

Friday, December 3, 2004

The bill would christen U.S. 412 as the Gov. John M. Dalton Memorial Highway.

By Marc Powers ~ Southeast Missourian

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- During Gov. John M. Dalton's term, he signed into law legislation requiring cars to have seat belts, establishing the point system for driving violations and providing funds for the construction of a new Missouri State Highway Patrol headquarters.

With such a record, the late governor's son said it is fitting that some Bootheel lawmakers want to name a highway after his father.

"I think it is wonderful," said John Hall Dalton, a Kennett lawyer. "The family would certainly be honored, and I know he would be honored."

A bill pre-filed for the coming legislative session by state Reps. Terry Swinger, D-Caruthersville, and Otto Bean, R-Holcomb, would christen U.S. 412 between Kennett and Hayti as the Gov. John M. Dalton Memorial Highway.

John Hall Dalton said it is particularly appropriate that U.S. 412 was chosen to bear his father's name as he was instrumental in winning funding for the Mississippi River bridge between Caruthersville and Dyersburg, Tenn., that significantly boosted traffic on the highway.

The elder Dalton was governor from 1961 to 1965 and was the first Southeast Missourian to hold the post. A Kennett lawyer, he also served two terms as attorney general from 1953 to 1961. He died in 1972 at the age of 71.

Swinger, who met Dalton twice while visiting the Capitol as a teen, said a permanent tribute to Dalton's memory is long overdue.

"He was really popular in the area," Swinger said.

In addition to Dalton's efforts on highway-related matters, his other achievements included establishing Missouri's junior college system and signing a law mandating equal pay for women.

Dalton also holds a place in state history for the bills he didn't sign. His 35 vetoes in 1961 remains the record for the most bills rejected from a single legislative session.

"That kind of illustrates his character," John Hall Dalton said. "If he didn't think something was good for Missouri, he would veto it."

The memorial highway bill is HB 53.

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