The recent announcement that Jackson County has been chosen as part of the state’s Iowa Great Places program drives home two interesting points.

One, factoring in Clinton’s selection as one of the first three Great Places in 2005, along with Dubuque’s selection in 2006, the people in Des Moines are starting to see the truth behind the good things people have been saying about our corner of the state. And two: Clinton went from being one of three Great Places to one of nine, heavily diluting any attendant prestige.

We’re thrilled to see Jackson County’s proposal selected. It incorporates much of the natural beauty of the area that many of our readers know so well and is a fine blend of commerce, recreation, history and nature — very representative of the community at large. We know how selective the Great Places process can be and salute those who worked hard to bring about this honor for their hometowns.

Such work by dedicated volunteers is a good benchmark of people who truly care about their town and neighbors. It speaks well of the future to see how many people take such pride in Jackson County and all it has to offer.

In Clinton, that dedication remains evident as people continue to work on elements of Clinton’s proposal. New signs welcoming visitors to Clinton and Iowa are under construction by the Department of Transportation. The City Council has given its blessing to plans for a disc golf course at Eagle Point Park, and a dedicated team working on upgrading the park’s playground equipment are making significant strides.

Other elements of the proposal are moving along well, things like the public sculpture garden, for example, while the long-term goals — a public beach near Joyce’s Slough, the sawmill museum and North River Drive — are progressing at a slower pace. It’s not that the projects are ignored, but rather are being addressed with the seriousness and attentiveness befitting such large-scale efforts that ultimately will require a great deal of someone’s money.

Still, as other communities join the Great Places fraternity, Clinton must realize that there is no time to slack on any of the responsibilities of the projects, and the state must continue to honor commitments it made when Clinton was selected in the first place. Based on what we’ve seen thus far, there’s plenty of reasons to be excited, and also to believe that Great Places will work its way through Clinton in a far different manner than Vision Iowa.

To Jackson County — welcome to the club. To the state — thanks for acknowledging what many of us already knew. And to the people who are working hard on these projects — congratulations, but there’s much more work ahead.

About the proposal

Jackson County’s proposals focuses on developing and expanding canoe trails on the Maquoketa River, hooking into the proposed Mississippi River Trail via the Jackson County Bike Trail, rehabilitating the Clinton Engines Administration Building (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) as a museum dedicated to the history of business and industry, providing people with disabilities access to sidewalks in Bellevue’s commercial area, creating Bellevue’s Mill Creek Walkway and preserving the Jackson County Insane Asylum to make it safe for demonstrating the kind of treatment administered to mentally ill patients in the past.