Monday, August 23, 1999

Name: Ross Sasamura
Age: 39
Education: General Motors Institute
Occupation: Director, city Facilities Maintenance
Hobbies: Time with two sons

Still plays with trucks

Ross Sasamura grew up playing with cars, trucks and airplanes. But he was most fascinated with garbage trucks.

Sasamura remembers when he was 3 years old, looking outside his window and watching the garbage truck collect trash from his house in Ainakoa twice a week.

He still hasn't outgrown his interest in mechanical things. Today, he works closely with the maintenance of garbage trucks and other city vehicles.

"So now I'm responsible for making sure that they're all fixed and on the road so that other little children can look at them," he said.

Mayor Jeremy Harris recently appointed Sasamura as director of the city Department of Facilities Maintenance, responsible for road maintenance, automotive equipment and services, and the building and electrical division. Before he was appointed, Sasamura was assistant chief of the Automotive Equipment Service Division.

He's also worked as a truck sales engineer for HT&T Truck Center in Honolulu and senior design engineer for Peterbilt Motors Co. in Newark, Calif.

"He's prepared himself well to take on more challenges than his existing job," said Kenn Sprague, former Public Works director and now head of the city Environmental Services Department.

"Some people focus on where they've been or where they are, but he's always looking for greater opportunities."

Sasamura is president of the Hawaii chapter of the American Public Works Association and Hawaii Clean Cities, a non-profit organization Harris started four years ago to promote non-polluting transportation fuel.

For two years, Sasamura drove an electric car as his primary source of transportation. And he hopes that more Hawaii residents will choose battery-operated electric cars over gas-powered vehicles in the coming years.

"We hope that we'll have thousands," he said. "For most people on Oahu, electric vehicles are very practical." The biggest obstacle, however, is people's willingness to accept change.

"It's just a matter of people making the choice," he said.

He's also involved with the mayor's vision team, which gives communities an opportunity to share ideas about ways to improve their roadways and infrastructures. Sasamura said the city, for instance, has plans to run circulator buses within the next year or two from Waikiki and Kapahulu through Kaimuki to stimulate business in the area, something that the community felt was needed.

"These are the things that could have easily been lost if government were left to make the choices," he said.

"The main thing that I hope to accomplish is to satisfy the expectation of all of the community members," Sasamura said. "I hope to minimize the disappointments and maximize the expectations people have."

Shirley Iida, Star-Bulletin

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