Word on the street: Imperial Valley shares New Year’s resolutions


IMPERIAL COUNTY — As 2016 came to a close, new resolutions were embraced for the upcoming year. Various residents in Imperial County shared their aspirations, both personal and community-oriented, for what they hoped to see in 2017.

Sam Couchman – Brawley Mayor

“As your mayor, the council and I look forward to 2017. The council and city staff are working together on city issues as we begin the year.

We expect several new businesses to open in 2017. The OWB plant is operational and we expect that to move forward in 2017.

City finances are sound. City streets and infrastructure are being slated for improvement this year. Especially South Palm Avenue. City parks are experiencing many improvements, such as new bleachers, restrooms and one complete renovation.

The challenges facing our city include funding, recruitment and replacement of critical staff. Solutions for our downtown business district.

We at the city expect to meet these challenges and work together with our residents to make this a prosperous and great 2017!”


Alex Cardenas – El Centro Mayor

“2017 is going to be a year of prosperity for our community. We are looking forward in stepping out as a pioneering and responsive municipality for the betterment of our citizens.”


Ryan Kelley – Imperial County Board of Supervisors


“In the year of our Lord, 2017, I see Imperial County benefiting from the productivity and ingenuity of our citizens. Our livestock, orchards, and renewable energy industries will continue to grow and bring new employment opportunities to our community. Salton Sea Restoration and mitigation will manifest in real projects completed by the end of the year. Imperial County will celebrate our land, our resources, and our communities as the most thundering county in California.”




Fabian Ortiz, El Centro Resident

“My New Year’s resolution is to be happy and find substance in the minimal things. Looking forward to a positive and successful 2017.”


James Hanks, Division 3 IID director

“I believe that 2017 will finally produce a clear path forward at the Salton Sea, which, as it continues to recede, not only represents a clear and present danger to the people of the region but also stands in the way of IID participating in any drought contingency plan for the Lower Colorado River Basin. As this will be the final year of mitigation inflows to the sea generated from land fallowing, a decision by the state of California can no longer be put off, which makes 2017 a time of reckoning.

What’s needed is a coherent plan, starting with a 10-year roadmap, for a smaller but sustainable Salton Sea that the people who live closest to the problem can believe in. The state’s reticence to take decisive action at the sea, including any acknowledgement of the vast renewable energy development potential unique to the area, must end. Just getting by is no longer an option; instead, hard choices are going to have to be made by all stakeholders, including IID and its partner, Imperial County.

But first, the Governor himself is going to have to make his own choice, and there is still time for him to make the right one for California, the Colorado River and most importantly, the people of the Imperial and Coachella valleys.”


Johnny Labunog, Imperial Resident

“I aspire to enjoy more time with my family and friends in 2017. Amidst all the chaos that is occurring elsewhere, I feel that it’s important to savor the happy moments in life.”


Raymond Castillo – Imperial County Board of Supervisors

“I foresee 2017 being another landmark year in renewable energy development; that’s if we can have the state recognize Geothermal Energy as renewable energy. The prospects of lithium mining is also looking very promising.

Now in regards to the Salton Sea issues, it appears the State and the Federal Government have finally come to recognize the importance of funding mitigation measures to address the potential environmental hazards of ‘exposed playa’.

The board needs to continue to promote economic development in all sectors of our economy, i.e. agriculture , industry, recreational tourism, etc.

The county manages over 2,000 miles of roads and highways, and we need to seek funding for much needed road repairs as well as ongoing maintenance.

The county Board of Supervisors and IID Directors signed an MOU in 2013.
Continued cooperation and collaboration with IID is essential to deal with Salton Sea environmental issues.”


(L-R) Leo Garcia Jr., and Leo Garcia Sr., El Centro Residents

“I want to have a better year in 2017 and am eager to create better opportunities for me and my family.” (Jr.)

“My New Year’s resolution is to be a better grandpa. I’m striving to be grandpa of the year in 2017!” (Sr.)





Norma Sierra Galindo, outgoing IID President of the board of directors, Division 5

“Due to all that has transpired at the Imperial Irrigation District in 2016, it is clear that 2017 will be a consequential year for the district on both the water and energy sides of the business.

In the water arena, we will continue to work closely with our counterparts in county government and our water users in the agricultural community to coordinate our efforts within the Lower Colorado River Basin so that IID is able to participate in a drought contingency plan to address the plunging elevation at Lake Mead.

Of course, IID’s participation will depend on the state of California living up to its Salton Sea restoration obligation, starting with a 10-year roadmap for a smaller, but sustainable, sea that our constituents can have confidence in.

On the energy side, IID will continue to oppose any expansion of the California Independent System Operator into adjoining western states, as such a move would come at the direct expense of the district’s energy balancing authority and the best interests of its ratepayers. Rather than chase windmills in Wyoming under the guise of regionalization, the state’s grid operator would be better served by facilitating the development of renewable resources in its own backyard, including the largest untapped geothermal energy resource in the world at the Salton Sea, and we will continue to press our case in the year ahead.

As importantly, we will redouble our state and federal advocacy and outreach on behalf of the Imperial Valley’s large and secure Colorado River water entitlement and the local agricultural industry on which it depends. As trustee of this valley’s water rights, it is important to remember that IID’s core mission is not to transfer water to the coast, but to deliver it to our agricultural customers who use it to grow food and fiber here at home.”


Loenel Torres (El Centro resident)

“In 2017 I plan to remain focused on work and make time to give this year my best effort. I want to focus on me and my well being.”

Chicago Resident / El Centro Native

“I’m ready to make some money in 2017. I will apply myself and remain focused on utilizing quality time to accomplish my goal of bringing in the dough.”