City official to go to Afghanistan

Public Works Operations Superintendent Tom Purcell leaves April 26.

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WALLA WALLA - For the second time in a year, a top city official is heading to Afghanistan to help support infrastructure there.

Public Works Operations Superintendent Tom Purcell will leave for an assignment with the Department of Defense as an advisor to help develop and teach methods of infrastructure maintenance in Afghanistan.

"I think there are ways to mitigate the dangers we have over there. And I got two months of training before I ever step into the country," Purcell said.

He leaves April 26. This will be his last week with the city.

According to Purcell, the Department of Defense created a pilot program of 32 advisors for various support and service sectors, including infrastructure repair and maintenance, which will be his area of emphasis.

"We spent of great deal of money building infrastructure for them. So there is a need to maintain it ... And 10 years from now or 20 years from now, what better thing to tell your grandchildren than you have done something for the greater good," he said.

Purcell, 51, came to work for the city in 2004. Previously, he had worked with the Seattle city lights division.

"I am pumped," Purcell said, adding that his grown children and his wife are in full support of his new assignment. He described that support when he returned from training in Washington, D.C.

"It is really heart warming when she (Cecilia Purcell) comes up and says ‘I want you to know just how proud we are of you,'" he said.

Last year in April 2010, Public Works Director Craig Sivley took a 13-month assignment with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help build infrastructure in Afghanistan.

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