City has big shoes to fill in public works

June 5, 2014

By Staff

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The community will lose an important asset this month, when Public Works Director Mark Rigos leaves for the same position at North Bend.

North Bend’s population is smaller than Newcastle’s, by about 4,000 residents, but it offers greater responsibilities, including managing the city’s water and sewer district.

Rigos was only with Newcastle for three years, but it has certainly felt like much longer than that, given the way he has fully ingratiated himself within the community.

In his time with Newcastle, Rigos redefined what it meant to be a public works director, when he equally prioritized public safety and customer service.

He worked weekends and evenings if necessary, often bringing one, or a few of his sons, to an event, and he was highly visible in working with groups like Newcastle Trails and the Weed Warriors.

When residents in a west end neighborhood lost out on a grant for a future park, Rigos was instrumental in working with neighbors and the Newcastle City Council in making sure it still became a reality.

Little Rhody Park is now a complete hit in the community. The playground is installed, with a gazebo and half-basketball court to come.

“When residents look around at some of the recent improvements that continue to make Newcastle such a great place to live, they should know that Mark Rigos was heavily responsible,” said Danny Finan, a resident who worked with Rigos on Little Rhody Park.

It’s true. Rigos was responsible for managing a pavement rehabilitation program that makes Newcastle’s streets some of the best in the region. He worked with Newcastle Trails to continuously improve the city’s trail system, one of the community’s greatest assets.

City Manager Rob Wyman has a very tough task ahead of him in naming Rigos’ replacement, and he knows it. It will be difficult to find someone to replicate Rigos’ blend of industry experience and community commitment.

Like it or not, Rigos has raised the bar of what it means to be a public works director in this city. Residents now expect a certain level of community engagement.

If his replacement cares half as much about this city as Rigos did, though, Newcastle will be in good hands.

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