EL CENTRO — The Imperial County Board of Supervisors awarded the Medal of Merit to former Imperial Irrigation District General Manager Kevin E. Kelley Tuesday, April 6, for his dedication and distinguished public service to Imperial County. Kelley’s parents and family accepted the award on his behalf.
Kelley started as an irrigator and rose to serve as IID’s general manager for eight years, guiding IID in protecting the Valley’s water rights, raising awareness of the Salton Sea, and aiding is resolving a 15-year lawsuit between IID and the County of Imperial, according to the resolution read aloud by Supervisors Jesus Eduardo Escobar.
Kelley found a passion in writing during his years in college at the University of Southern California after graduating from Brawley Union High School.
Upon coming back to the Valley after graduating from the University of Southern California, he began working for the Imperial Chamber of Commerce. He later became the executive director.
He and his partner, George Hendrix, bought the Valley Grower magazine where he was a publisher and editor. Born in Brawley to a farming family, Kelley was familiar with the highs and lows of Imperial Valley agriculture business. He later sold the magazine to Imperial Valley Press, where he continued as the magazine’s editor and frequently practiced his joy of writing editorials.
He was later hired by IID as a contract employee with a focus on developing, marketing, and media content. He was offered the position of community services officer, eventually moving to public information officer, and then becoming the assistant to the general manager. In 2010, he became the general manager, where IID became an advocate for the Salton Sea and the impacts of the Quantification Settlement Agreement, solar development on farmland, and connection of the Sunrise Powerlink, according to the resolution.
“The Kelley Family is honored to accept the medal and recognition on behalf of our departed son, father, brother,” said Supervisor and brother of Kevin Kelley, Ryan Kelley. “Kevin would enjoy the ceremony and take the opportunity to acknowledge all the people in his life that made an impact on him. Our family thanks the Board of Supervisors and the County of Imperial for this honor and we know Kevin is enjoying it as well.”
“Kevin Kelley’s death is an enormous loss to our community,” said Chairman Michael Kelley. “His contributions and insight helped shape the IID and the Imperial Valley, and his legacy will live on for years.”
The County of Imperial Medal of Merit is an award created by the Board of Supervisors to commemorate outstanding commitment and dedication to community and civic service, goodwill, and acts of heroism by Imperial County residents, according to the County’s website.