Liccardi taps into a little bit of everything

by Chris Studor

On a recent sunny spring morning, Hinckley resident Heather Liccardi pulled on her mud boots and made her way to the River Woods Nature Preserve and the Rocky River where she regularly volunteers to help conduct water quality testing.

Liccardi works with representatives from the Rocky River Watershed Council and the Medina County Soil and Water District monitoring the river’s level of nitrates, phosphates and river life. Her volunteer work with this agency is just one of the ways she gives back to the community she loves and one of many reasons she has been selected as the 2022 Hinckley Citizen of the Year.

“It’s really important to everyone’s future that we help keep our water sources healthy enough for people to drink and use,” said Liccardi, who has served as secretary to the Watershed Council for four years.

Medina County Soil and Water District Watershed Education Specialist Abbey Costilow and Bekah Strait, Regulatory Team Leader at Davey Resources Group, said that citizen volunteers, such as Liccardi, are vital to the work they do and help connect people with their environment. Watershed Council Chair Patrick Nortz describes Liccardi as one of the best.

“[She’s] an amazing, energetic, inquisitive and caring person,” he said. “[She’s] a consummate question-asker, teacher and volunteer, who steps up to help at community events and board meetings and engages others to become involved in the council’s mission of preserving, protecting and restoring the watershed.”

After an hour’s work testing water at the nature reserve, Liccardi is off to her post as secretary for the Hinckley Chamber of Commerce for its their monthly meeting to review Buzzard Day events and discuss the improvements that need to be made moving forward.

Liccardi’s other volunteer hats include volunteering with the Friends of Richfield Heritage Preserve, former volunteer with the Medina County Red Cross Disaster Team, member of the Highland Foundation and an active member of the Hinckley Historical Society. She also serves as historian for the Hinckley Women’s Club, which she and township resident Cheryl Valasick, helped form 40 years ago.

“For me, life is about people,” said Liccardi. “One of my famous sayings is ‘life is not a dress rehearsal, get involved now.’”

Originally from the east side of Cleveland, Liccardi said she and her husband, Dennis, were first attracted to Hinckley Township “because it seemed like a place where people respect your privacy but if you need help, people would be there in a flash.”

More than 50 years later, its safe to say their intuition was right as the couple still resides in the forever home they designed. The couple has a son, Eric, who lives in Pennsylvania and they have five grandchildren.

Now retired, Liccardi, earned a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees in education and she has taught students from the elementary level through college. A good part of her teaching career was spent as a special education transition coordinator for 11 area school districts. As a certified Water Safety Instructor, she also has taught years of swimming lessons and worked as a life guard.

She and her husband love to travel and have ventured from Antarctica to the beaches of Normandy, France, while also spending a lot of summer days at Marblehead. In addition, she serves as a tour guide for eighth-graders touring Washington D.C. through Nowak Tours.

Liccardi’s involvement and dedication to the community is noted by a number of residents who sent in letters of nomination, including Hinckley resident Linda Koren who commented, “Heather’s tireless commitment and energy to Hinckley and beyond certainly makes her worthy of this award.”

Melinda Malaria, president of the Hinckley Chamber of Commerce, agreed.

“As people come and go, Heather Liccard is here to stay,” she said. “[She is] a community treasure that should be recognized for her embodiment of the Hinckley motto; ‘Small town, big hearts’ and is most deserving of the honor 2022 Hinckley Citizen of the Year.”

Liccardi will be officially recognized as Citizen of the Year at the May 17 Hinckley Township Trustees meeting. She will also be the guest of honor at the township’s annual Memorial Day Parade and will be recognized at the ceremony following the parade. ∞