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New public works chief committed to community

It’s obvious that Maher Abed, Port Orchard’s new public works director, is a military man.

He stands a little taller. His tie is a little straighter. But he answers questions in a soft, accented voice filled with patience and gracious humility.

Having spent years using his expertise to reinforce the roadways and building of cities up and down the I-5 corridor, Abed spent several years working on roadway construction for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) out of its Maple Valley office before coming to Port Orchard.

“I’ve spent 10 years working with local agencies,” Abed said of his decision to apply for the Port Orchard position. “I like to work in small communities where my work will have a bigger impact.”

Abed currently lives in Graham, near Puyallup. He said that after working in Shoreline and Sedro-Woolley north of Seattle, he accepted a position in Pacific, south of Auburn and had to move.

His wife loves to garden, he said, so they settled on a third of an acre in Graham and Abed commuted first to Pacific, then to Maple Valley.

He will commute to Port Orchard, but hopes to move his family within the year.

“I like the quality of life here,” Abed said. “The area has a lot of enticing features.”

He admits he’d never been inside Port Orchard prior to interviewing for the position, but he knew of the area.

“After I was invited to interview for the position, we came (over) and my wife and I loved the community,” Abed said.

Abed, 47, said he is looking to stay in Port Orchard for the remainder of his career. He and his wife have two grown children.

“We want to be part of this community,” Abed said. “One of the primary projects I hope to become involved in is the upgrade work being done on the wastewater treatment facility. (The city) also has federal funding available to prepare the design and acquire the right-of-way for the widening of Tremont.”

Abed said these projects are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what he would like to accomplish in Port Orchard.

He has spent 19 years in the National Guard and currently holds the rank of lieutenant colonel.

After serving three years on active duty at Fort Lewis in the late 1980s, Abed currently commands the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Battalion (EOD) based in downtown Tacoma.

Abed describes the battalion as the military equivalent of a city bomb squad.

Though Abed was born in Iraq, he hasn’t been back for 18 years.

He said he will continue to serve with his battalion and go to Iraq if he is called. But for now, he will fight to make Port Orchard a better place to live.

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