Newsroom adds new staff member

HARLINGEN — The Valley Morning Star has a new photographer/reporter.

Rick Kelley, 62, joined the staff yesterday. He has had a broad career in journalism, serving in editing, reporting and management positions in both newspapers and television.

“These are exciting times to be in the newspaper business, and especially so here in the Valley,” Kelley said. “We’ve added so much more for our print readers and our digital content readers.

“But in the end, news is still all about writing compelling stories and taking top-notch photos, and that hasn’t changed at all,” Kelley added.

His most recent positions, as editor of The Register-Herald in Beckley, W.Va., and as executive editor of The Macomb Daily in Michigan, saw him lead those newsrooms as they added digital newsgathering to their daily coverage.

Valley Morning Star Editor Lisa Seiser is thrilled to have a journalist of Kelley’s quality, experience and knowledge join the staff.

“Rick brings a high level of understanding to the newsroom here in Harlingen and we are pleased to have him join our staff,” Seiser said. “He brings his quality writing style, editing capabilities and ability with a camera to the newsroom. The addition of Kelley will allow us to produce more content for our print and online readers. I also expect him to provide some additional leadership when it comes to making our newsroom more digitally focused.”

Kelley, a Michigan native who now lives in Harlingen, previously worked at the Detroit Free Press, the Memphis Commercial Appeal and the San Juan Star in Puerto Rico. He was formerly managing editor and assignments editor at WLBT-TV in Jackson, Miss.

He is a graduate of the University of Mississippi, where he earned a degree in journalism.

Kelley fills the role of former VMS photographer Jason Hoekema, who left the paper about three months ago.

Kelley has combined his love of hunting and fishing with photography, and spends as much time as he can in exploring the wild places in the Rio Grande Valley. Particular favorites, he says, are Hugh Ramsey Nature Park in Harlingen, the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge near Alamo and Boca Chica Beach.

He has long claimed to be something of a cook, specializing in Moroccan and Cajun cuisines.

“The Valley, as I’ve already discovered, is a special place,” Kelley said. “I can’t believe the kindness people have shown me since I’ve been here. It’s been extraordinary.”

Kelley’s parents have lived in Harlingen since the early 1990s, first as Winter Texans and then as full-time Texans. His father died recently, but his mother, Jean, continues to reside in Harlingen.

You can contact Kelley at rkelley@valleystar.com or at 956-430-6203.