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Linn County Engineer Steve Gannon has announced he will retire April 13, 2018 after 40 years of service to Linn County.
Gannon joined the Linn County Engineer and Secondary Road Department as the County Bridge Engineer in 1974 after graduating from Iowa State University. Gannon was also the County bridge inspector while serving as bridge engineer. He inspected bridges for Linn County and most communities within Linn County from 1974 through 2010. In 1983, Gannon was promoted to Administration Engineer to assist Jerry Nelson, the County Engineer. In 1998, Gannon became Linn County Engineer—the position he has held for the last 20 years.
During his time with Linn County, Gannon has led the County Engineer and Secondary Road Department through a number of major projects and technological advancements, including rebuilding the rock-surfaced roads throughout the county, rebuilding the bridge inventory, and placing concrete overlay on 200 miles of the paved system. Designing two bridges through the floodplain of the Cedar River creating present day Blairs Ferry Road in 1984 was a significant investment by the County and achievement of the Road Department.
Gannon also led the department during its response to the 2008 and 2016 flood events when the department not only assisted the City of Cedar Rapids in the Time Check area and elsewhere, but also was part of the team that hauled sand and bags for volunteers to fill, which preserved the use of a water well along Edgewood Road. This was done in addition to making repairs on the secondary roads throughout the county impacted by the torrential rain and flooding in June 2008. The Secondary Road crews kept access to Palo for nearly the entire event in 2008 and the entire event in 2016. The Road Department restored Blairs Ferry Road, Lewis Access Road, and Ellis Road quickly after the flood waters receded during both events. The 2008 and 2016 major flood events were tests of nearly every member of the Road Department, showing that teamwork and resiliency are important attributes in an emergency and are attributes possessed by the Road Department through its employees.
Under Gannon’s leadership, work on the Linn County secondary road system has resulted in improved road and bridge safety for the public. The Road Department received the 2011 National Roadway Safety Award for being the first county in the United States to use the concrete safety edge that reduces edge drop and the danger of vehicles losing control while reentering the road. The Road Department has received numerous State awards for quality bridges, construction of river walls along May’s Island, safety improvements that include innovative pavement markings and rumble warnings, reducing obstructions along roadways, and smoothness in building asphalt roads. Linn County has also received a national award for the timber bridge program that has produced over 150 timber slab structures. The improvements honored by these awards will remain in place for decades.
Gannon has received individual honors that represent the efforts of the entire Secondary Road Department, including the 2014-2015 Appreciation Award from the Rotary Club of Cedar Rapids.
“I have attempted to build upon the work and vision of previous County engineers to make the Linn County Secondary Road system the best it could be,” said Gannon. “Our Road Department is emulated throughout the State. Linn County has been a leading county in updating infrastructure since 1913 when the County Engineer position was created by the Iowa legislature. Linn County will continue its leadership role into the future.”
“Steve’s contributions to the citizens of Linn County are immeasurable,” said John Harris, chair of the Linn County Board of Supervisors. “As he retires, he leaves us with roads and bridges whose safety is first in the State, and a solid foundation for the County toward the future. We thank him, and wish him well.”
Recruitment for Gannon’s replacement will begin following his retirement. Assistant Linn County Engineer Brad Ketels will serve as acting Engineer in the interim.