Thirty-two years ago -- at age 14 -- Deon Giles started working for Pleasant Grove with his father, designing and planting flower beds. He's been with the city since, working his way up the ladder.
"For years I have referred to Deon Giles as the busiest man in Pleasant Grove," Mayor Bruce Call said. "That statement is 100 percent true, as anyone who knows Deon will tell you."
Call said residents can't go anywhere in Pleasant Grove without experiencing Giles's influence: its parks, the community center, public swimming pool, the library, youth programs and trails.
"Everyone who lives here owes a debt of gratitude to this man and his tireless efforts," Call said.
Giles's father, Paul, had extensive experience working on large landscaping projects at colleges in the valley. The family raised their own flowers in greenhouses, so the work began in the winter. Giles said he really enjoyed the season when they raised the flowers.
As he gained more experience, Giles started working full time for the city. He said he was eventually promoted to being a foreman with the Pleasant Grove Parks Department. The work involved not only the flowers, but also mowing many large parks as well as clearing snow.
Eventually, Giles was asked to be the leisure services director for the city. His job was broad, including not only overseeing the parks, but also the recreation department, library, cemetery, facilities, aquatic services and the trail systems in the city. He also was charged with supervising several commissions, including historical, arts and beautification.
"I have attended several training conferences over the years that have included information for recreation, the cemetery, trails and much more," he said.
With this continued training and the networking that takes place between others from cities all over the state, Giles said he has been able to keep up with the many new ideas.
Since Giles took over the position, the city was able to build a new swimming pool as well as the new community center. He said the city also purchased the property just west of the community center for the future phase two of the center. The library has combined with other libraries to share books. There also is a large e-book resource available for residents.
He is working with a committee to have a master plan developed for trails in the city. Giles applied for and Pleasant Grove received $100,000 in grant funds to plan that trail system. He said he really looks forward to working with the many projects that are in the works as well as in the planning stages.
With the continuing growth of the city, Giles and head librarian April Harrison recently had a change in their responsibilities. According to city administrator Scott Darrington, Harrison now is a director for the city. She will continue to head up the library, but she is also over the arts, culture and city celebrations.
"This will make both Deon and April's jobs more manageable," Darrington said.
Darrington said when he came to work for the city, he was amazed at all of Giles's responsibilities, but feels with the growth of the city, it needed to be changed and restructured.
Giles also served for 21 years on the fire department. He has his EMT certification and serves as one of its lieutenants. He said he has genuinely enjoyed serving the community as well as the life-long friendships he has developed in the department.
Recently, Giles was honored by a local LDS ward for his service to the Boy Scouts. Several years ago, he and his staff created a list of potential projects for prospective Eagle Scouts. That list is updated each year.
An Eagle Scout himself, Giles said this had worked well through the years in getting specific projects completed for the community as well as helping these young men complete their requirements to become an Eagle Scout.
"We purchase the supplies and the young man organizes volunteers to work on his selected project," Giles said.
He said that thousands of hours are donated not only through the scouting program, but many other programs that help the city.
"This community is very service-oriented," Giles said, adding that with 12 to 15 LDS stakes in the area with about 10 church congregations per stake, there is always a ready force willing to serve.
"Pioneer Park was just one of the outstanding results of volunteers," he said.
The city employs six full-time park employees, with seasonal help hired on at different times during the year.
"Without the many volunteers that do so much, we couldn't do as much as we do," Giles said.