The iconic grain bins outside of Janesville that carried the town's name and for years served as hometown, agriculture-themed welcome to visitors were partially destroyed in a mid-June windstorm and won't likely be resurrected.
But townspeople recalled their establishment with nostalgia
As Paula Arndt tells the story, it all started one day in 1988 or 1989, when Janesville State Bank President and fellow Janesville resident Mike Finley counted the grain bins on the west side of town. There were 10. That’s the same number of letters in the town’s name.
Since they were right along the highway leading into town, he thought painting one large letter per bin would be an interesting and unique way to welcome people into town.
Dill Elevator owned the bins, and they were in use for grain storage at the time. The Dill folks were in favor of the idea.
With a committed group of volunteers, a grant of paint from the Valspar Paint Co., loaned equipment from the City of Janesville and private companies and individuals, the project was ready to fly.
Artist Laurie Dimmel, who taught art at the Janesville school, had created not just the outline for the letters, but also the eye-catching sun and rainbow backdrop for the letters. She drew it out on the bins, and the 20 or so painters arrived.
“We finished it the weekend before Hay Daze,” Arndt recalls.
Finley says the core crew was made up of bank employees, but the community as a whole came together to support and participate in the project. It took only two days to paint the rainbow flowing across all 10 bins. “They were two long, full days,” Finley recalls. The finished project was stunning.
“I’d go to meetings in the Twin Cities, and people would comment on the rainbow bins,” Finley says. “I talked to politicians who right away commented on the bins. It was very well known.”