Harrry Starkey coming over from  Berrenda Mesa to replace retiring Jerry Pearson


The West Kern Water District has a new general manager.

He is Harry Starkey, who replaces Jerry Pearson, who has served as general manager for the past 18 ½ years.

Starkey’s appointment was approved following a closed personnel session at the end of Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting of the district Board of Directors.

He was selected from an original field of more than 20 applicants that was narrowed to five finalists.

The district personnel committee, composed of board president Steve Steinhoffer and Tom LeClair, interviewed all five and narrowed the list to two, which the full board interviewed.

Starkey currently is general manager of the Berenda Mesa Water Storage District that primarily serves farmers on the west side of the county.

A registered civil engineer, he has worked previously for the Kern County Water Agency and Bookman-Edmonston engineering.

“I think he is good for us,” Pearson said.  “He meets our two primary interests.  He has knowledge of California water issues in general and Kern County water issues specifically.”

Pearson said Starkey should easily adjust from managing a district that primarily feeds agriculture to one that provides water to both residential and industrial users.

Steinhoffer said he was “ecstatic” Starkey is stepping in as general manager at such a critical time for the district.

“I’m extremely pleased that we got Harry because I was very concerned about finding a replacement for Jerry at this time as we head into our north field project.”

The district is planning an ambitious expansion of its well field.  The first phase of the project is a $33 million program to drill new wells and install conveyance systems.

“We have heard nothing but good things about him,” Steinhoffer said.  “The entire board is just really happy to have someone of this caliber.” 

He believes Starkey, who currently lives in Bakersfield, will be a good fit for the community.

“As impressed as we were with his qualifications, we were just as impressed with his community work.”

Starkey will be on the job April 5.

Pearson is retiring after serving as general manager for the past 18 years.  He plans to take it easy for a while but may do some consulting work, he said.

He will stay on the job until May 7 to help Starkey transition.