Joe Shaw's service earned him the Order of Palmetto

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By The Staff

Lancaster Mayor Joe Shaw’s community service work has earned him deserved recognition beyond the Lancaster County lines.

Shaw, a Lancaster native and Lancaster High School graduate, was honored during the recent Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce’s annual State of the Community event with the Order of the Palmetto Award at the Fairway Room.

The Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest civilian award for service, was created by Gov. John West in 1971 to honor lifetime achievement and service.

The honor mirrors similar awards bestowed in other states, like the Kentucky Colonel and North Carolina’s Order of the Longleaf Pine.

The process of bestowing the honor is not an overnight decision, but takes about eight months. A group of 20 or so local residents engineered the effort to honor Shaw to begin the process. The governor’s office also has a special screening committee that closely considers nominees as part of the selection.

A stunned Shaw received the award, a framed plaque, from S.C. Sen. Mick Mulvaney, R-District 16, who made the presentation on behalf of Gov. Mark Sanford’s office.

Shaw has served as Lancaster’s mayor for 28 years, but his service includes a plethora of civic activities, such as the Lancaster Jaycees, among others.

Shaw’s commitment to community involvement began long before he first threw his hat into the ring to be a part of the local political landscape.

Shaw, an athlete at LHS, served as a youth football coach at Central Elementary School and later was president of the Lancaster Dixie Youth Baseball program.

He’s also active on the board of directors for the Columbus Parker Track Club, a Lancaster area youth track program.

Those programs have had their share of success over the years, but the main purpose is to provide a wholesome activity for area youth to learn the values of teamwork and sportsmanship, early life lessons that will be used through the years.

Shaw, over the years, stepped up his community involvement to reach out to other areas, which includes his political work. He served on City Council before aspiring to be mayor.

“You, indeed, capture the essence of a ‘hands on’ mayor,’” said Sanford in a letter, that accompanied the award. “And for all your have done to make your city an even better place to live, work, learn and play – we extend our heartfelt gratitude.”

Shaw had mixed emotions about receiving the honor, a big smile for the surprise, but happy tears reflecting his thanks.

He shared the honor, citing the work of the department heads and their staff.

“They’re the ones who run the city,” Shaw said. “I’m honored and thrilled.”

Shaw joins the ranks of such past local recipients as Charles Bundy, along with the late Bob Mobley, Sen. Frank L. “Son” Roddey and James Bradley.

Elite company, but a group where Shaw’s strong community service has earned him membership.