By SERINA MARSHALL
Staff Writer [email protected]
After 39 years and 6 months working with Washington County, Highway Superintendent John B. Deakins Jr. has retired.
“I was hired by my father who was superintendent for 10 years and needed someone he could trust and help get the department on the path to better pay, equipment and all roads paved,” Deakins said. “I started as a mechanic was promoted to block foreman then to supervisor of the three quarries where I closed two and update the present quarry.”
Deakins said that he has been a part of the Highway Department in various facets since he first started.
“In 2003, the Quarry was leased to American Limestone (now Blue Water) which is one of my biggest achievements of my tenure. That has saved the Highway Department thou- sands of dollars. At present our stone cost is $8.10 and the retail is $21-23, plus I don’t have the worry and cost of daily operations of the quarry,” he said. “In 1988, I was promoted to assistant superintendent and started learning to prepare the highway budget that I have done for the past 34 years.”
Additionally, Deakins said he has worked with three may- ors, three county attorneys and nine county commissions and had a great relationship with them all.
“All the progress made over my tenure could not have been possible without the cooperation of the may- ors, commissions and most of all the employees of the Highway Department that get the work done every day; they are the backbone of this department. I just drive the train,” he said. “There were a lot of factors I considered that lead to my decision to retire. There was COVID. I lost five good friends to COVID, had two classmates pass away, my mom passed in February, then Commissioner Mike Ford passed. That makes one think about his future.”
With family being a large part of Deakins’ life, he wanted to make sure he didn’t miss any time with his loved ones.
“My grandson graduated at Science Hill and the other will be 11 this month, so I want to spend time with them. I want to travel some, see some of the great places in this country. I also farm and plan helping my son build houses. So, I will be busy,” he said.
Deakins family is proud of the legacy that he leaves behind, not just for his family, but for Washington County.
“I’ve watched my dad work incredibly hard all my life. Most of it has been with the highway department. He has improved the department and its high- ways immeasurably since taking office, and he did it all while helping to raise myself and my sister,” John Deakins III said. “He has always made time to be there to support us in everything we have done. I look forward to him being able to do what he wants now; I am very proud that he has taken this next step after years of hard work. He has definitely earned it.”
Deakins’ daughter, Suzanne, agrees with her brother.
“My dad has always been the touchstone for me, throughout all my life. He has lived the example of honesty, fairness and transparency in his own life AND in public policy, even when it wasn’t popular. If I can live up to half of what he’s shown me, I feel like I’m doing pretty good,” she said.
The gratitude Deakins has for those that have crossed his path over the years will last as long as the memories he made.
“I would like to thank all the commissioners and mayors that I have worked with over the years and most of all the employee’s that have retire and are still working. Like I said the highway employees get all the credit for the work they do maintaining the 820 miles of roads, I just provide the money and equipment to get the work done,” he said. “I love Washington County, as my family always has been the fourth generation in public service. Washington County is a special place to live and has been good to the Deakins family so we have always given back by serving.”