PASCO -- Pasco's new public works director, Ahmad Qayoumi, is busy familiarizing himself with ongoing city projects like the Lewis Street overpass and preparing to take on the challenge of one of the nation's fastest-growing cities.
Qayoumi, 42, started Oct. 4, filling the position left vacant when former director Bob Alberts retired in May.
He most recently worked for the city of Vancouver, Wash., for 11 years as transportation development review manager. In all, he said he has about 22 years of experience working for cities, including Montgomery, Ohio; Mason, Ohio; and Sherwood, Ore., in various public works roles.
Qayoumi said he's worked in transportation, traffic, water and sewer and has dealt with rapid growth.
That will be particularly important in Pasco, which has seen its population grow 83 percent over the past decade to more than 58,000, and making Franklin County the 18th-fastest growing in the nation.
A U.S. citizen, he was born in Afghanistan but left as a refugee at age 12 during the war with Russia. He said his brother moved to the United States in 1984 after living in a refugee camp in Pakistan, and the rest of the family followed later.
Qayoumi received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in civil engineering from Portland State University. He also is a certified engineer in Washington and Oregon.
Qayoumi said one of his main goals is to grow the public works department so it can remain self-sufficient. "You can do it a lot cheaper if you have it in-house," he said.
Qayoumi said Pasco's size and self-sufficiency in transportation, traffic, sewer and water were among the things that made him want to work here.
He said he's also looking forward to helping the city keep ahead of its fast-paced growth, plan for the future and help keep it a place people want to live.
Qayoumi said while working for Vancouver he also got the chance to help international cities, including participating in two projects with U.S. Aid, which is funded by Congress. For the first project, he helped Kabul, Afghanistan, complete roadways, drainage and sewer projects in 2004-06.
Methodology of that project has been used as a model for other public works projects abroad, Qayoumi said.
He also worked with two cities in Sri Lanka, Kataragama and Anuradhapura, to help them plan to accommodate religious visitors and provide public services. He said he hopes to have a chance to do more international work at some point.
In his spare time, Qayoumi said he enjoys cycling, running and hiking. He and his wife, Jonna, are looking for a home in the area.