Rockhampton Regional Council's new director of planning, Russell Claus.
Rockhampton Regional Council's new director of planning, Russell Claus. contributed

From bomb-blasted Oklahoma city to home council in Rocky

FORMER CQ boy Russell Claus has resigned from his position as planning director at Oklahoma City Council in the United States to head Rockhampton Regional Council's planning department.

Mr Claus was responsible for facilitating Oklahoma City's building rehabilitation after the 1995 terrorist attack, the most destructive in US history until the September 11 attacks.

The bombing killed 168 people, injured a further 680, destroyed or damaged 324 buildings in a 16-block radius and caused $652 million damage.

Mr Claus's role as planning director included the development and implementation of the Oklahoma City Master Plan, including commercial district revitalisation, affordable and workforce housing programs, sustainability initiatives and quality of life functions.

Oklahoma City manager Jim Couch told US media Mr Claus was a catalyst, who put his vision into action to help strengthen the city.

"Our city is economically stronger thanks to Russell's professional contributions to the community," he said.

Rockhampton Region Mayor Margaret Strelow said Mr Claus and Jane Whyte, who was recently appointed to spearhead resource industry relationships in the council's new economic development unit, were the right people to hit the ground running.

"Russell Claus is a Queenslander, who is keen to return home from Oklahoma City in the USA with a wealth of experience that will make him a great leader for our planning department," she said.

Mr Claus spent a year in Rockhampton before immigrating to the US in 1992.

He said although it was a tough decision to leave Oklahoma, it had always been on his mind to return home. Among the things he most looked forward to were the Aussie sense of humour and "no bloody guns".

He takes up the position on February 17.



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