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Trail honors beloved Rock Hill ambassador

Beneath a grove of trees near where the Arcade Mill once stood, admirers of the late Winston Searles gathered to honor Rock Hill's longest-serving city councilman.

A monument unveiled Monday recognizes Searles as an ambassador for Rock Hill and tireless advocate for the neighborhoods he represented.

The marker stands along a paved trail that winds through the cleaned-up Arcade property, part of a link that will one day connect the Hagins-Fewell neighborhood to the downtown area.

Mayor Doug Echols called Searles "a real contributor" willing to go anywhere on behalf of Rock Hill. City Manager Carey Smith described Searles as "Rock Hill's No. 1 ambassador."

"Winston made a difference wherever he was," said friend and City Council colleague Osbey Roddey.

Searles pushed for more resources and attention for Hagins-Fewell, a place of urban decay left hollow by the closing of the mill.

It was an enduring cause for Searles, whose tenure spanned seven terms and took him around the country with the National League of Cities. Searles died in 2007 at age 85.

Familiar Rock Hill faces dotted the crowd, including former Mayor Betty Jo Rhea, former state Reps. Sam Foster and Bessie Moody-Lawrence and former City Manager Joe Lanford.

Searles' daughter, Edna, helped unveil the marker during a morning ceremony attended by 110 people.

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