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Supervisors Name Coons as Public Works Chief

May 25, 2000|GINA PICCALO

Simi Valley Public Works Director Ronald Coons will become Ventura County's new public works director next month, county officials announced Wednesday.

Coons, 54, begins June 19 as manager of the 360-member department that maintains county roads, sewers and buildings, said chief administrator Harry Hufford in a written statement.

Supervisors, who approved Coons' selection in a closed-door session Tuesday, described the longtime Simi Valley resident as well-liked, innovative and a skilled lobbyist whose good relationships with federal and state agencies are sure to help bring more money to county projects.

The chief administrator and Coons were unavailable for comment.

"He has creative ways to solve problems," Supervisor Frank Schillo said. "That's what we need."

Coons is known to have good relationships with the agencies that have significant influence over pending county projects, including the Army Corps of Engineers, the California Department of Fish and Game and the Ventura County Transportation Commission, Schillo said.

State money wasn't available this year to help fund the widening of Lewis Road in Camarillo between the Ventura Freeway and Cal State Channel Islands University, or the expansion of an interchange at the junction of California 23 and the Ventura Freeway. A total $30 million is needed for both projects.

Another public works project on the board's priority list is the dismantling of the 190-foot-high Matilija Dam, a crumbling structure near Ojai that environmentalists say has blocked the endangered southern steelhead trout from its spawning grounds and is robbing Ventura's beaches of sand.

Flynn is hopeful that Coons can lobby for federal and state grants to put a $10-million sewer system in El Rio to replace existing septic tanks.

In August, the state Regional Water Quality Control Board ordered homeowners in that town and surrounding areas to connect to a municipal sewer system to stop ongoing water contamination.

Coons, a registered civil engineer with more than 20 years' experience in government, replaces Arthur Goulet, 62, who retired in March after 22 years.

Coons' starting salary is $123,042, plus benefits.

John Crowley, who has acted as interim director for the last two months, will resume his position as deputy director of public works.

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