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SHALLOTTE — After graduating from Shallotte High School, native Danny Roden enlisted in the U.S. Army. Following his discharge a few years later, Roden returned home and accepted a position offered to him by then-mayor Beamon Hewett.
Roden’s employment began March 1, 1973, and the rest is history.
Shallotte has had 10 mayors, including an interim mayor, since Roden first started working for the town.
“I’ve almost seen it all,” Roden said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
Planning his retirement in August, Roden said he has “no idea” what he’s going to do when he’s no longer working in the maintenance department.
One thing’s for sure, Roden said: He will visit the women who work at town hall frequently.
“I’ll miss all those nice ladies who work up front,” he said, pointing toward the offices of town clerk Sandy Strickland and finance director Mami Gaither. “They’ve been really good to me through the years.”
Strickland and Gaither said there’s always some kind of practical joke war going on over at the maintenance department, and Roden is usually right in the middle of it.
Roden said when one of his former co-workers retired, they duct taped him to the back seat of the maintenance truck.
“That one still makes me laugh,” he said.
Roden said his role hasn’t changed much since he started working for the town — the second time — in 1973.
“I’ve always done a little bit of this, a little bit of that,” the quiet, soft-spoken 63-year-old said.
Roden said he couldn’t imagine himself doing anything else for a living.
“This is all I’ve ever known, other than the Army,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of people come through this town.
“There’s no telling what my coworkers might say about me, but this is the best bunch I’ve ever worked with.”
Roden said the work never gets old because “there’s something new every day.”
During a cold Monday in January, Roden said with a wry smile, “I’m mostly trying to stay warm.”
“There’s a lot more work now because there’s a lot more people,” he added. “I stay busy.”
Roden said he expects to become a frequent visitor to his friends at town hall and his co-workers at the maintenance shop after he retires.
“I’ll miss all of them. The only thing I know to do is pop in and say ‘hello’ from time to time,” he said.
Roden said one of his fondest memories is displaying the first Christmas lights down the streets of Shallotte.
“They were just colored bulbs,” Roden said.
Now, one strand of the original bulbs remains, and it hangs at the maintenance shop during the holidays.
“It’s been fun,” Roden said. “This is a special place.”
Sam Hickman is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or email@example.com.