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Kelley named PADD director Housing development seen as a priority
November 04, 2015 Jerry Purvis   

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Jeff Kelly

PADD, the Panhandle Area Development District and the Panhandle Resource Conservation (PRC&D) and Development District have named long-time employee Jeff Kelley as the group’s new executive director.

Kelley, a Gering resident since 1982, joined PADD in 1998. He said that along the way, he’s received a lot of great mentoring from former directors Al Heuton, Jarrod Haberman and Chuck Karpf, who retired in June.

Kelley’s first assignment was marketing the organization, but that evolved into grant writing and grant administration for communities in the 11 Panhandle counties served by the agency.

“A lot of that dealt with the Community Development Block Grant program that helps communities finance a variety of projects,” he said. “That got me working with the cities in handling all the paperwork. I also helped communities comply with all federal regulations that go along with the projects.”

In 2001, PADD got involved with owner occupied housing rehab projects. To date, almost 100 homes have been rehabilitated in communities around the Panhandle.

“Housing is a huge challenge in areas across the state,” Kelley said. “We need to be sure the infrastructure is in place in case a large employer, such as the proposed meatpacking plant, comes to the area. We think we can help with that.”

In the future, PADD would like to partner with a local government entity to improve housing stock in the area by purchasing, rehabbing and reselling the properties.

While PADD isn’t doing a planned housing study of the area, they have been contacted by two engineering and planning firms about doing the work.

Kelley has been PADD’s interim director since Chuck Karpf retired. “We were kind of at a standstill,” he said. “I didn’t want to implement anything a new director would eliminate to me, I thought it was important to accept and get us moving forward.”

He added that after 17 years with PADD, he’s a familiar face with community leaders around the Panhandle and has lots of experience with grants and other funding sources.

Recently, PADD received a federal grant to help Panhandle communities identify blighted properties for potential redevelopment.

Going forward, Kelley said PADD needs to maintain a strong presence in its member communities. That way, the communities will know the services PADD and PRC&D offer and how they can benefit from membership.

One of those benefits is an economic loan fund to assist both new and existing businesses in the Panhandle area.
“In the future, I think we just need to get out there more often and let people know what we’re about,” Kelley said.
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