FLORENCE, S.C. — Florence Mayor Stephen J. Wukela was honored by the city with the planting of a tree for Arbor Day.

The 20-foot magnolia was planted shortly after 10 a.m. on Friday at the Florence City Center at 324 W. Evans St.

Wukela said it was a great honor.

“During my time as mayor, I have had the opportunity to (be) with some fantastic people,” Wukela said by phone Friday afternoon. “It was very generous of them to extend that honor to me.”

Wukela announced in October that he would not be seeking a fourth term as the city’s mayor. He gained statewide and national attention in 2008 when he defeated 13-year incumbent Frank Willis by one vote. He was reelected in 2012 and 2016.

Arbor Day began in 1594 in Spain. The first Arbor Day event in the United States was held in 1872. Two-time Nebraska Gov. Julius Sterling Morton organized that event.

Morton later served as the third secretary of agriculture during the presidency of Grover Cleveland.

The national observance of Arbor Day began with a proclamation issued by Theodore Roosevelt to school children about the importance of forestry.

South Carolina observes Arbor Day on the first Friday in December.

The Florence City Council approved a resolution at its November meeting marking Friday as Arbor Day in the city.

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Government and Politics Reporter

I cover the city of Florence, the county of Florence, the state legislative delegation of Florence County and surrounding areas, and the federal delegation representing the Pee Dee for the Morning News.

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