The City of Johnsonville recognized mayor Joseph Stevens Dukes for 38 years of service to the City with an engraved train bell at its City Council meeting on Tuesday, November 5. Dukes was elected to Johnsonville City Council in 1981 and has been serving as mayor since 2004.
Senior councilman Jamie Altman made the presentation noting that Steve is a native of the Johnsonville area and has proudly spent his entire adult life in service to the city.
“Steve has been active his entire career with the Municipal Association of South Carolina to keep Johnsonville in the forefront of state endeavors and to ensure that other municipal leaders knew what Johnsonville was doing,” Altman said. “He is a graduate of the Mayor’s Institute and was able to get the American Institute of Architects to conduct a community-wide planning project here back in the 1990s.”
Altman said community leaders identified three key potential focal points of the City: Lynches River, the area’s history, and the need to develop an anchor building downtown to draw more businesses back to that area and instill more pride in the area citizens.
“Under Steve’s leadership, the Heritage Festival moved to the park at the river and the City received a grant for a major renovation of the boat ramp and landing. He has worked with the Francis Marion Trail Commission and the Friends of Revolutionary Rivers to promote Johnsonville as a place for river recreation,” commented Altman. “The commissioning of the statue of General Francis Marion at the landing and the planning of a new municipal complex on Broadway Street to create a focal point for downtown revitalization happened under Steve’s leadership,” he added.
Some other accomplishments in Johnsonville during Dukes’ service include:
• Johnsonville being named a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation
• Water and sewer improvements including the Vox water project
• Business growth along the 41/51 corridor
• The widening of Highways 41/51 and 378 making Johnsonville accessible by 4-lanes highways from I-95 and I-20.
• Establishment of the Johnsonville Area Chamber of Commerce
• AIA naming Johnsonville the “Outpost to the Coast”
• Continued partnerships with Wellman, The Poole Company and other industries
In accepting the bell, Dukes commented, “I did not do these things by myself. They were accomplished because I had the backing of council. The citizens and the many people I served with who have passed away also deserve credit.
“I accept the honor you have given me, but I accept it with everyone else here with me,” Dukes concluded.
Mayor Dukes did not seek re-election this year. Mayor Pro Tempore Johnny Hanna was elected mayor for a term of four years on November 5.