On Nov. 5, retired Maj. Gen. R.S. "Sam" Kem will become director of Arlington County's Department of Public Works.

As director, Kem will oversee public works planning and engineering, water and sanitary sewer operations, traffic engineering and street and storm sewer construction, inspection and maintenance. He also will manage the department's approximately 330 employees.

"Sam Kem will be a great asset to Arlington County," County Manager Anton S. Gardner said. "His widespread hands-on experience and extensive leadership skills, which made him an influential leader in the Corps of Engineers, will be invaluable in the management of the Department of Public Works."

Kem, 56, served as deputy chief of engineers and deputy commanding general of the Army Corps of Engineers from 1989 until last month.

The Corps of Engineers manages Army and Air Force construction programs, as well as a civil works program for water resource development.

While deputy chief, Kem assisted in the development and operation of the Corps of Engineers' project management and research programs. He also reorganized and modernized the Corps' headquarters.

From 1981 to 1984, Kem worked as a presidential appointee to the Mississippi River Commission. He also has served as chief of staff of the U.S. Army Europe and 7th Army.

Kem, a West Point graduate, received master's degrees in civil engineering and international relations. His awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Bronze Star and the Army Commendation Medal.

Kem lives in Fort Myer with his wife, Ann, and their three children, Michelle, John and Steven.