Mayor Nancy Smith announced during her State of the City address Wednesday the city will create the Mike Riggs Community Service Award in honor of the city’s Director of Public Works, who passed away unexpectedly Oct. 7.
The award will be presented to “a group, organization or individual that provides a significant service to the community,” beginning in 2023, Smith said during her address.
Details on how recipients will be determined will be worked out in coming months, Smith said.
Smith said with the city undergoing many rapid changes it has adopted a new mission statement. In a campaign to help employees learn it, the city produced a video which, until Wednesday, had been shown only internally. She said she wanted to share it with the audience because, “It includes a brief, but important cameo from the City’s Public Services Director, Mike Riggs, who passed away earlier this month.”
In the video, Riggs said, “For us, unlocking Maricopa’s potential is keeping the city pristine. We know we have a reputation as a beautiful city. And it is our job to deliver on that expectation every day.”
Smith said Riggs was always true to the city’s goals and went to great lengths to ensure they came to fruition.
“Mike Riggs embodied that mission,” Smith said. “You are hard-pressed to find a single project around town in which he didn’t have a hand. He was ever-present at city functions and a keystone in their planning and execution. His contributions of loving service to his fellow citizens simply cannot be measured.
“As an example of all the city stands for, there are few that could equal and none that could surpass our friend and colleague. We can think of no better way to honor Mike than to encourage others to follow in his footsteps of service, which is why it is my great honor tonight to start a new tradition in Mike’s memory.”
She noted Riggs’ mark literally was left on the city Wednesday morning when the new script “M” welcome monument he was instrumental in creating finally was placed on the north edge of town in the State Route 347 median. The monument has Riggs’ initials welded permanently into its base, giving him a place at the doorstep of the community he did so much to build.
“We owe so much of our progress as a city and as a community to Mike and his family,” Smith said. “Tonight, to them we say thank you. I hope that tonight’s glimpse into the future energizes you about the possibilities that lay ahead for Maricopa. The list of what we want to accomplish in the year ahead is long, and we know we can do it!”
Feelings for Riggs ran deep at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, as well.
“It was hard to comprehend how many lives the man had touched and how much of a loss it will be for the city, but more than the city, for his family and everyone who knew the guy,” Vice Mayor Vincent Manfredi said. “Mike Riggs is gone but he’ll never be forgotten. It’s hard to explain what he meant to everyone unless you knew him.
“The man was just…if you were a man, you looked up to him. Whether he was your father, friend, family, it didn’t matter.”
Manfredi also suggested a memorial to Riggs to honor all he did to help Maricopa grow.
“When I do say he will never be forgotten, I want to be sure to make sure he’s not,” Manfredi said. “The fields over at Copper Sky, and the way he handled that, and the way we built that park, whatever park we build in the future has to have his memory there – it has to. He is the city of Maricopa, the true grit, the determination to move forward. That was Mike. When you get a chance learn more about him, if you don’t know him, try to lead a life like he led.”
Councilmember Henry Wade added, “He was quite a man, someone I looked up to.”
Fellow councilmember Rich Vitiello spoke of the void Riggs leaves.
“I know everyone who attended (his funeral), our hearts are broken, his family’s hearts are broken,” Vitiello said. “I agree he will always be remembered, and I agree, whether it’s a park or a monument or something, he needs to have something dedicated to him, even though there is already a Riggs Road.”
The road is named for a member of Riggs’ family.
Editor’s note: Vincent Manfredi is an owner of InMaricopa.