Cicconi completes work for Ligonier Borough, but not community
When Chick Cicconi decided to take on the duties of land use administrator for Ligonier Borough five years ago, he said he would do it until he turned 80. His last day on the job is today, the 4th of July. It is also his 83rd birthday.
“It is time for a fresh person to take over the job,” said Cicconi of Ligonier.
He said he is ready to give up the job to Merle Musick of Latrobe but plans to offer help out as an assistant.
“I want to help the new guy through the transition,” he said. “I will be happy to help him out, if I can.”
The patriotic gent is no stranger to volunteerism in the Ligonier Valley. He is well-known for his portrayal as Uncle Sam at Ligonier parades and helps with other holiday events in the community.
He said he is not planning to fade out of the Ligonier limelight however, he says he plans to divert some of his volunteerism energy to helping the Ligonier Valley Chamber of Commerce.
“I have always volunteered somewhere,” he said. “I come from a very patriotic family. I guess since I was born on the 4th of July, it is just ingrained in me.”
Council President Robert Helterbran likened Cicconi to the English social thinker and philanthropist John Ruskin during a retirement luncheon for Cicconi Monday.
“(Ruskin) believed the first test of a truly great man is in his humility. Humility is just the word to describe Chick Cicconi, Ligonier's preeminent servant-leader,” said Helterbran.
“Always willing to help, never seeking any credit; ever devoting himself to the betterment of the community and its citizens; always positive and passionate in every task undertaken — this is Chick Cicconi.”
Helterbran applauded the former mayor, council and planning commission member, land use administrator and beloved Uncle Sam in the Ligonier Days parade.
“Chick is a man of character, integrity and someone who's word is his bond,” said Helterbran. “A family man and role model for all others in the community — retired, but never to be forgotten.”
Cicconi said he moved his family to Ligonier from Latrobe in 1964 when he had an opportunity to serve the community as an insurance agent with Nationwide Insurance. Within two years, he was also serving on the borough's council.
“My first job was a councilman, Clarence Ruff was the mayor. When he asked me to run for mayor, I said I would give it a shot,” said Cicconi.
He served two terms in the 1970s.
“The best thing about my time as mayor was that I served in 1976 during the country's bicentennial celebration.”
“That was a great year and there was so much going on,” he said.
That is when Cicconi helped start an exchange between Ligonier and the city of Ligonier in Indiana. His most recent exchange visit was last summer. He visited Floyd Warren, the former Indiana mayor, for Warren's 90th birthday.
Cicconi said some community events conducted now began during the bicentennial year, including the Ligonier Country Market.
“The farmer's market started then and it is still going strong,” he said.
Cicconi said he served as the code enforcement office once before, for six years, in the 1980s.
From 1990 to 2000, Cicconi directed his volunteer services to the American Red Cross. He was a blood service chairman, served on the board and was a recruiter for Western Pennsylvania.
“I put a lot of time in with them. I probably organized more than 30 blood drives,” he said.
In 2000, at the age of 70, Cicconi retired after 43 years as an insurance agent and, for a time, from volunteer work with the municipality.
When Dick Hills left the position of code enforcement officer (now known as land use administrator), Jim McDonnell asked him to consider coming back to work for the borough.
“I told my wife Eleanor about it and she said ‘You don't need another job,'” he said. “But, I wanted to bring the position back to a friendly level,” he said.“I really enjoy people and I love this town.”
He agreed to take the job until he turned 80.
“Then 81 and 82 came along and I decided this is the year,” he said.
Cicconi said when discovered that Musick showed an interested in working as a code enforcement officer at another municipality, he emailed him about the land use administrator opportunity in Ligonier.
He said Musick's experience certainly qualifies him for the position. He is experienced in zoning and is a certified planner. He is a building inspector for Unity Township and operates a building inspection business.
Cicconi said he and his wife of 64 years, plan to travel more around the state.
“We love Gettysburg and plan to take a few day trips to historical areas now that we have more free time,” he said.
Cicconi will be participating in Latrobe's parade this week. Weather permitting, he will be riding his Honda motorcycle which is painted with a special American flag design.
Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.