Tuesday, June 28, 2016 • City says goodbye to veteran councilmember

Publisher’s note: This story originally appeared in the Tuesday, June 28, 2016, edition of the Lassen County Times.

The Susanville City Council honored veteran councilmember Lino Callegari for his dedication to public service and his years on the council at its Wednesday, June 22 meeting before the newly elected councilmembers took the oath of office.

Veteran city councilmember Lino Callegari.

It’s almost impossible to comprehend when you think about it, but when Callegari took his seat on the dais as a member of the Susanville City Council 28 years ago, Ronald Reagan was in the White House. Callegari dedicated his life to public service, and he also retired after a career as a law enforcement officer.

Jared Hancock, city administrator, said the city had prepared a plaque recognizing Callegari not only for his years of service on the council, but for his lifetime of dedication to public service to the community.

“I had the pleasure to serve with councilmember Callegari for the past four years,” said Mayor Brian Wilson, and I have a few things to read about his years on the city council. Twenty-eight years is a long time, Lino. I can only imagine.”

Wilson summarized Callegari’s service on the council — first elected in 1988, four terms (eight years) as mayor and service on many boards and commissions, including the Lassen County Air Pollution Control District, the Lassen County Transportation Commission, the Lassen Regional Solid Waste Authority, the Indian Gaming Committee, the Citizen’s Advisory Committee, the Susanville Airport Commission and more.

Wilson said Callegari was a strong supporter of the effort to bring natural gas to Susanville, law enforcement and public safety issues, small business development, community health and wellness (especially the current push to bring a dialysis center to Susanville) and other senior citizen issues.

“Lino, it’s been a pleasure to serve these four years on the council with you,” Wilson said.

Callegari, 82, the son of immigrants, said he was born in Westwood in 1934. After high school he played football for Lassen College and joined the Army.

When he came back home, the mill in Westwood had closed, so he moved to Susanville and went back to college, majoring in chasing girls.

“The two couldn’t mix, so I finally had to go to work at the Lassen County road department,” Callegari quipped, working on Highway 139 and Highway 44, “and it just went on from there.”

Callegari said he played a role in the installation of deflectors on roofs at Lassen Community College, taught drivers training at the college for many years after the high school abandoned the program.

He also recounted growing up in Lassen County.

“Lassen County is a tremendous county,” Callegari said. “I was lucky enough to come through the era of the lumberjacks … I grew up with Westwood, the second largest sawmill in the world, but the largest sawdust pile. We had the only steam-heated sidewalks in the world.”

He said even though some people did not like the Red River Lumber Company, his mother lived with the Walker family for 18 months when her folks went back to Switzerland.

He worked at the plywood line at the mill in Westwood, and then in the early 1950s all his friends were going to Korea, because “it seemed like the place to go,” so Callegari volunteered for the draft.

Upon his return he married his wife, Delight, and they’ve been married for 58 years. They have four children, 11 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

“It a pleasure to live in Susanville,” Callegari said. “They were our enemy from Westwood — we’d come down here and date their girls and they’d go up there and date our girls, but it worked out in the end.”

As his parents struggled to complete the process of becoming American citizens, Callegari said his older brother, also born in America, served in World War II.

“I want to thank everybody for what they do, and hopefully people will start attending the meetings,” Callegari said. “It’s good I’m going out now. My last murder case, they just turned the guy out on second-degree murder — Shelton and Ben Silva — I worked that case … they’re no longer on death row. They’re doing life, and hopefully I live longer than they do. But everything’s coming to an end properly, and I want to thank you and the citizens of Lassen County.”

Mayor pro tem Nicholas McBride, who did not seek re-election, serves as a volunteer firefighter and was unable to attend the meeting because he was on duty fighting a wildfire out of the area. Hancock said the recognition of McBride’s service would be tabled until a later meeting when the former councilmember would be able to attend.