Public works director leaving for North Bend
June 5, 2014
By Christina Corrales-Toy
Newcastle Public Works Director Mark Rigos has only worked with the city for three years, but his impact on the community is so great that when he announced his resignation, at least one resident became emotional at the thought of losing him.
“Honestly, I teared up a little bit,” Newcastle Trails representative Peggy Price said. “He’s been absolutely fabulous to Newcastle Trails. He’s proactive and he backs us up.”
Rigos announced in May that he will leave to become the public works director for the city of North Bend. His last day in Newcastle is June 13.
It wasn’t an easy decision to leave, Rigos said, especially since he has certainly grown to love Newcastle and its residents, but North Bend offers some new opportunities that Newcastle didn’t.
In North Bend, Rigos will manage the city’s water and sewer district, something he couldn’t do in Newcastle, because that falls under the Coal Creek Utility District’s purview. He’ll also get the chance to manage North Bend’s wastewater treatment facility.
“In the private sector, I’ve designed miles and miles of water mains and sewer mains, but I’ve never managed a full facility, a district, a fund, so that will be a new challenge for me that I just haven’t been exposed to yet,” Rigos said.
Rigos wore many different hats during his time in Newcastle. Sometimes, he was a trails manager. Other times, he was like a parks manager. But whatever he did, his constant dedication to customer service touched everyone that came into contact with him.
“He is a very humble leader and I liken him to a modern day Nehemiah, doing his best for others and the city with a sincere purpose and calling,” Newcastle Weed Warriors President Grace Stiller said.
Along with his staff, Rigos managed several sidewalk projects, oversaw a tricky landslide-stabilization project along Newcastle Golf Club Road, worked with Newcastle Trails to develop and acquire new trails, and guided the city through some major pavement rehabilitation projects in his three years.
His proudest accomplishment was the huge strides the city’s stormwater division made under his watch, he said. He credited surface water engineer Laura Frolich and infrastructure manager Brian Smith for making sure the city was dialed in on capital and maintenance needs.
“I’ve had a wonderful staff. There’s certainly no I in team,” Rigos said. “My staff has just been incredible in getting these projects done.”
Rigos is known for going the extra mile, City Manager Rob Wyman said. Whether it was finding a way to give west end residents their Little Rhody Park, even after the grant they applied for was denied, or bringing his son along to an off-hours May Creek Trail ribbon-cutting ceremony, Rigos always put in the extra effort to make something special.
“He was a true member of the community here,” Wyman said. “I’m going to personally miss him quite a bit, and going to miss all he’s done.”
Rigos has a long list of things he will miss about Newcastle, he said, among them, the people, the City Council, his staff and his city manager.
He doesn’t expect to stay a stranger, though. Rigos, an Issaquah resident, already has plans to attend the city’s Fourth of July event and maybe make it out for one of the city’s Concerts in the Park series.
“I’ll especially miss folks like Peggy Price, Garry Kampen, Grace Stiller and Lee Strom,” he said. “There are so many people that contribute in so many different ways to Newcastle, and that makes it a neat small town.”
Rigos joined the Newcastle staff in 2011. Prior to that, he spent 12 years as a senior project manager at Concept Engineering. He holds bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering and biology from Washington State University, and a master’s in business administration from Seattle University.
Wyman now has the arduous task of finding Rigos’ replacement. Whoever it is, he or she will certainly have some big shoes to fill.
“He’s not been a typical public works director,” Wyman said. “That’s the big challenge I have in trying to replace him.”
Rigos, who will start his new North Bend job June 16, does have some advice for the person that follows him, though.
“Public safety is always No. 1 in my mind, and as a civil engineer, it has to be, but almost equally important is excellent customer service,” he said. “Customer service is often overlooked in a public servant and I think it’s especially important in a small town like Newcastle.”