Rowan County road renamed in honor of vehicle inspector

ROWAN COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Kentucky State Police unveiled new signage Thursday renaming a portion of Kentucky Highway 377 in Rowan County in honor of Kentucky State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Inspector Benita Blanton, who was involved in a fatal crash in 2016 while on duty.

KSP was joined by Inspector Blanton’s family, Governor Andy Beshear’s Senior Advisor Rocky Adkins, the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Deputy Secretary Ronnie Bastin and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Chief District Engineer for the Department of Highways Steve Gunnell.

“When you lose an employee who touches so many lives, like Benita did, it leaves a void within our agency,” said KSP Acting Commissioner Colonel P.J. Burnett Jr. “Inspector Blanton’s devotion to both public protection and highway safety will never be forgotten.”

Inspector Blanton began her career with KSP in 2012 as a telecommunicator for Post 8 in Morehead.

In 2015, she transferred to the KSP CVE Division as an inspector performing commercial vehicle inspections to ensure large trucks were compliant with federal motor carrier regulations.

Blanton’s time with KSP focused on safety, whether she was behind the headset or ensuring commercial vehicles were in compliance, public safety was her number one mission.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet facilitated the official renaming project and provided new signage on Kentucky Highway 377.

Chief District Engineer Steve Gunnell attended the ceremony and spoke on behalf of Transportation Cabinet Secretary Jim Gray, where he said that the Cabinet is honored to recognize Inspector Blanton’s commitment to highway safety with this signage.

“We hope this action today of naming this highway in her honor will leave a continuous reminder to her dedication to public safety,” said Gunnell.

As a longtime law enforcement leader in Kentucky, Ronnie Bastin, Deputy Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, understands first-hand that losing a colleague is never easy, and it is especially difficult when their life is taken while on duty.

“As a former chief of police, I have had the I have had the honor of seeing the amount of selfless sacrifice that has to be made for those that are called to service in a public safety profession,” said Bastin. “Inspector Blanton was a credit to her agency, her family and her community for answering the brave and courageous call to service.”

Rocky Adkins, senior advisor to Gov. Andy Beshear, and longtime state representative in Rowan County, spoke at the ceremony.

“The people who have the greatest impact on local communities are people, like Benita, who are willing to serve as public servants. I will always have the memories of everything she gave to this community and the lasting impact she made.”

Blanton’s family assisted officials with unveiling the official highway sign during the ceremony, which was held at Johnson First Church of God in Morehead, Ky.

In 2019, a memorial bench with Blanton’s name engraved on it was permanently placed at the Morehead Commercial Vehicle Monitoring Station where she worked. The bench remains on display at the weigh station for visitors to use while they travel through Kentucky.

Blanton was a 1983 graduate of Rowan County Senior High School and received her Associates Degree from Morehead State University.

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