New Castle News

October 12, 2013

Former borough manager continues to serve community

MaryAlice Meli
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Dom Viccari retired two months ago as Ellwood City borough manager. But he’s not just sitting around doing nothing.

This week, Viccari fished at Moraine State Park’s Lake Arthur and roasted hotdogs on a stick over a fire outside his rental cabin.

But the 80-year-old also became one of the Lawrence County Conservation District’s volunteers who gather used fishing line from popular fishing holes for recycling. He’ll visit Rockpoint and Bevington Launch monthly during the season.

Anglers used to discard the snagged or broken monofilaments in lakes and streams, but that proved harmful to birds and small animals that became entangled and perished.

Nor did he sit still this summer. Viccari joined a group volunteers to plant more than 1,000 flowers at Ewing Park.

And had assisted another group of volunteers that constructed, planted and maintained 18 raised beds for growing vegetables on the grounds of the former St. Agatha School. The produce was donated to the food bank maintained by Ellwood City’s Ministerium. He said the group has developed a waist-high bed for planting by handicapped gardeners.

Of Viccari’s seven years as borough manager, Councilman George Celli said, “Dom did a good job. He was a very dedicated employee and worked hard at his job. He started the reforestation at the park, taking down trees that were dying.”

Viccari said that project included removal of 44 diseased or dying trees and the planting of 22 new ones at a cost of $49,000 paid for by state grants, donations from The Ellwood Group and others and in-kind services from the borough. He also pushed to find grants to buy deteriorated properties for redevelopment.

His wife, Mary Ann Fleo Viccari, noted that having worked for the borough with her husband, she was able to see, “Dom’s knowledge, skills, leadership qualities, creative thinking and love for Ellwood City.

“Dom never waited for things to happen. One thing many people don’t know is that Dom was Ellwood City’s network ... he would seek new business owners and put them in contact with property owners. Often he set up meetings to bring the two parties together to make a deal.”

One of the properties is the McDonald’s. Viccari’s proposal encouraged owner Paul Sweeney to establish the restaurant and he said Sweeney is planning a special event to celebrate its 25th anniversary in the borough.

Among the projects to improve the borough, one of the more striking is Viccari’s effort seven years ago to help Jim Wassell’s Appalachian Lighting to grow from the owner’s cellar to a fully operating plant on Route 488.

Council president Anthony “Lefty” DeCarbo said, “Dom took me out to this guy’s house. He worked in his basement. Now he’s got more room and converted the borough’s street lights, traffic lights and the borough building.”

Wassell’s company changed the borough’s street lights to an energy-saving LED system that saves the borough 80 percent in monthly costs. In addition, Viccari said, the computerized system now alerts officials to where a light may be out.

Viccari commended council for backing the ideas he presented to improve the borough and save money. He noted that savings allowed the borough to pay cash for a $116,000 dump truck for the street department and a $140,000 bucket truck for the electric department.

“I can’t say enough about borough council,” Viccari said, “and also about the good working relationship with the county commissioners.”

Commissioner Dan Vogler said Viccari is “a community asset, not just in Ellwood City but in Lawrence County. I always thought he was much younger. There’s an energy to Dom that’s quite contagious. I always felt Dom was an idea person; he comes up with excellent ideas.”

While Mayor Anthony Court acknowledged he and Viccari “didn’t always agree, I believe we both wanted what’s best for the community.”

“He did a hell of a good job; he has a lot of young ideas (and) got a lot of grants for us,” DeCarbo said.

“Dom did a very good job in his time (as manager) and filled a gap when needed,” Councilman Ralph Chiappetta added.

Viccari said his wife will retire in January and they may travel a little. He hinted he will probably run for borough council again. He served five terms before moving into the manager’s position and said he still has a list of projects he’d like to finish.