Planning, Partners, Passion result in National honors to US Army Corps civilian planner upon retirement

St. Louis District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Published Nov. 12, 2013

Jim Hill, Operations Manager on the Kaskaskia River Project in Southern Illinois, and nationally recognized master planning expert within the Corps of Engineers, has retired after 32 years of federal public service.  Hill was presented the prestigious de Fleury Bronze Medal at retirement ceremonies in St. Louis.

The award was presented by Col. Christopher G. Hall, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers St. Louis District commander, and signed by Gen. Thomas Bostick, U.S. Army Chief of Engineers.  The award cites Hill’s “commitment, innovation and passion” for the region. The de Fleury is the third highest honorary award the can be given to a military or civilian member of the US Army Corps of Engineers, and recognizes Hill's many significant accomplishments over the years that have benefited the nation.

“Jim is invested in more parts of the district than he was ever planted,” said Hall.  “His fingerprints are far beyond his mission sites,” referring to Hill’s work with the riverfront in Clarksville, Mo., the Table Rock Lake Visitors’ Center in Branson, Mo., and the collaborative developments along the Kaskaskia River.

Among Hill’s work that earned the award was an historic work load of over $30 million in major repair, maintenance and improvement projects for navigation, environmental stewardship, interpretive and recreation facilities and services to the Kaskaskia and Mississippi Rivers confluence that was completed in less than five years.

Hill was recognized previously in his career by the Corps’ New Orleans District for exceptional support during the immediate aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, as well as by the Corps Little Rock District for exceptional technical expertise and support in developing the Regional Table Rock Lake Visitor Center.

As Operations Division Program Manager for all Master Plans Jim helped craft Operation Plans, shoreline management plans, trails, greenways, partnerships, watershed initiatives, Interpretive centers,  exhibits, recreation facility developments, universal accessibility and out grant development plans on Corps managed public lands and waters.

Friends and colleagues know his passion for the region he served is beyond his official position, and testimonials throughout the day often used the words “passionate” and “dedicated.” 

“Jim carefully listens to find the real issue to make a good plan and build partnerships,” said Bob Wilkins, lifelong Corps colleague of Hill’s and Operations Manager for Carlyle Lake and Kaskaskia River Project.

Hill himself remarked that the Kaskaskia assignment was the hardest of his career. 

“The key to success,” he said, “was to get to the goal of what the partners wanted, and (find) how we could provide the tools they needed, and satisfy all of our customers.”

Hill was Randolph County, Ill. Man of the Year nominee in 2012 and received a James M. Hill Day Proclamation from Randolph County in September 2013 for his service to the region as Manager of the Kaskaskia River Project.  He continues that dedication as a volunteer supporting tourism and sustainable economic and quality of life initiatives in Randolph and Monroe Counties in Illinois.