By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Assistant Editor
---- — CLINTON — Gil Janes’ dedication to making Clinton a better place was unending, especially for someone who wasn’t from Clinton, those who knew him said.
In turn for his tireless efforts, the city of Clinton bestowed Janes with the inaugural Mayor’s Prestigious Award for Outstanding Contributions to Community Improvements.
“He wasn’t based in Clinton, but he spent a lot of time trying to make Clinton a better place,” Mayor Mark Vulich said.
Vulich chose Janes, who was an engineer with Cedar Rapids-based Howard R. Green for more than 30 years before he died last week, as the first recipient for a number of reasons, including the work he did to see ensure the Liberty Square project happened.
“Without him I don’t think the project ever would have gotten off the ground and even if it did, I don’t think it would have been of this magnitude. He really had a vision,” Vulich said.
Clinton resident and transportation advocate Edith Pfeffer met Janes in 1997 after he started working on the Liberty Square project. She lauded Janes’ meticulous nature and work scouring for money to make U.S. 30 the gateway to the community.
Janes’ work included several trips to Des Moines and Washington, D.C., that resulted in millions of dollars being funneled to Clinton. In addition to his work on Liberty Square, Janes was instrumental in the city’s Lincoln Way project that also shaped U.S. 30 through Clinton as well as helping with the Sawmill Museum and the Children’s Discovery Center.
“He adopted Clinton,” Pfeffer said. “He was very caring, compassionate and knowledgeable. He has, without a doubt, left a major impact on the city of Clinton.”
During the Clinton City Council’s meeting Tuesday night, Vulich read a proclamation awarding the honor to Janes, which also called attention to his work.
“The citizens of Clinton owe a debt of gratitude to Gil for all he has done for our city,” the proclamation read. “Gil Janes has made Clinton a better place to live and has inspired the city to set goals high and never give up.”
At-large Councilman-elect Tom Determann, who also met Janes in the mid-to-late 1990s as part of the Iowa/Illinois highway partnership, called Janes’ work fighting for grants and other funds for Clinton “indispensable.”
“I don’t think we would have gotten (Liberty Square) done without him,” Determann said. “There was a group of us working on it, but I don’t know if it would have gotten done without him.”
As part of the award, the city will install a memorial in Liberty Square dedicated to Janes.