Personnel changes in county Public Works, Planning

The Hawaii County departments of Public Works and Planning will see leadership changes following the new year.

The county announced Tuesday that Public Works Director Allan Simeon, who was appointed in April, will step down from that job on Jan. 31. He will remain an engineer with the department.

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Being nominated to replace him is David Yamamoto, who currently serves as the department’s building chief. The appointment requires County Council confirmation.

Yamamoto joined the department as an engineer in 1995.

Down the hall, two-time former Planning Director Duane Kanuha will replace Daryn Arai, who is retiring, as deputy director starting Jan. 2. Arai has 32 years of experience with the department.

Kanuha was previously deputy planning director from 1976-84. He led the department from 1988-90 and again from 2013-16.

Mayor Harry Kim hired Michael Yee to fill the top position when he took office after the last mayoral election. Yee remains the planning director.

Simeon, a licensed professional engineer, joined the county as an engineer in 1997.

During the recent Puna eruption, he oversaw paving of Government Beach Road and construction of a temporary road over parts of Highway 137 covered by lava, among other eruption-related access and infrastructure issues.

“We are very grateful for all that Allan has done for the community,” Kim said in a press release. “He took on a very difficult task and did good work. I know this job was hard on him and his family.”

Simeon submitted his resignation in a Friday letter to Kim, according to the Mayor’s Office.

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The press release from the Mayor’s Office said Simeon wrote that he thanks “the nearly 400 hard-working DPW staff and the countless county employees for their continued help and support.”

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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