ST. GEORGE – Hundreds bid farewell to long-serving St. George Mayor Dan McArthur Thursday at the Dixie Center St. George. Earlier in the day the mayor was honored by the city and had a portion of the Town Square Park named after him, while outgoing members of the City Council were also recognized.
Dan McArthur lost his bid for re-election in November 2013 to Mayor-elect Jon Pike who will be sworn into office on Jan. 6.
Council Members Gail Bunker and Ben Nickle chose not to run for re-election in November, making way for Council Members-elect Michele Randall and Joe Bowcutt who also will be sworn in Jan. 6.
Outgoing council members
Friends, city officials and family were gathered at City Hall for a short City Council meeting Thursday, during which Bunker and Nickle were honored.
“It’s been a wonderful experience,” Bunker said of her decade on the council. Though she was recognized as a primary force for the arts and the St. George Children’s Museum, she counted little things she had been able to do for the people of St. George as being among her greatest accomplishments while in office.
“Every personality I’ve met at City Hall has been fantastic,” Nickle said, adding that his time on the council has taught him that, despite the different opinions people may have on certain issues, they actually have more in common than they may originally anticipate.
“We are going to miss you, Gail and Ben,” Councilman Jimmie Hughes said.
Each council member also took a moment to thank Dan McArthur for his long record of service to the city.
Surprise at Town Square
The City Council, city staff and many members of the McArthur family left City Hall for the Town Square Park where a surprise waited for the outgoing mayor. He had been told a series of photos were to be taken, but not that a part of the Town Square – something he has had a major hand in creating – was being named after him.
On behalf of the City of St. George, Bunker presented McArthur with a plaque that was a preview of a much larger one to be set at the foot of the flagpole in the middle of the parade grounds, officially naming the area the “Daniel D. McArthur Historic Parade Grounds at Town Square.”
“This is a real honor,” McArthur said, yet was quick to give credit to others as well. “None of this would have been possible if not for (City Manager) Gary Esplin and the city staff.”
Hundreds gathered at the Dixie Center were the city hosted a farewell for the mayor. A long line of people formed to shake the mayor’s hand and give their regards. Among those attending the farewell were current and former members of city staff and government, as well as county officials and state legislators.
Set around the room where photos and various items celebrating and highlighting the mayor’s 30 years of public service to the city and the area. Before becoming the mayor, Dan McArthur served for 10 years on the city council.
“This is a tribute evening to him,” Bunker said after taking the stand. “We are here to thank the mayor and show the gratitude we all share.”
A video presentation honoring the mayor was shown in which family, city and county officials past and present shared their thoughts and memories of McArthur.
“He’s not a politician,” one of those interviewed said, “he’s a statesman.”
Others spoke to Dan McArthur’s integrity and humility, and said that no matter what, he always had a song, a poem, or a story up his sleeve. Described as being genuine and authentic, he was said to never portray himself as anything more than the man he was. He was also called a prime example of the “Dixie spirit,” which was described as a great sense of volunteerism and community.
“To me he is everything Dixie,” Hughes said following the presentation.
Mayor-elect Pike presented Dan McArthur with a bronze statue of a young man carrying a sandbag. He said it depicted one of hundreds of people who came together to sandbag homes along the Virgin River during the 2005 floods. Pike, who was not a member of the City Council at the time, recalled seeing Dan McArthur and other city officials visiting various spots along the river to make sure the people there had everything they needed to fight the flooding – and if they didn’t, the mayor made sure they did.
“We had a clear depiction of the Dixie spirit,” Pike said.
City Manager Gary Esplin and the city staff also honored the mayor.
“This night wouldn’t be fitting without a poem,” Esplin said, and read “The Bridge Builder.” He said Dan McArthur had built a bridge on which future generations could follow.
In response, Dan McArthur stood up and pointed to the city staff who were gathered on the stand. “These are the builders,” he said.
Esplin told the mayor to stop giving the credit away to everybody else. “This is your night,” he said.
Dan McArthur addressed the gathering next with his wife, Bunny McArthur, at his side. “I couldn’t have done this without my family. The person I owe the most to … is my dear wife, Bunny.”
True to form, Dan McArthur ended his words by singing “Are You From Dixie?”
“… If you’re from Santa Clara, Washington or St. George, fine, anywhere below the Iron County line,” he sang, “then you’re from Dixie. Hooray for Dixie, ’cause I’m from Dixie too.”
All gathered gave Dan McArthur, the man who has been at the city’s helm for two decades, a standing ovation.
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