The Orange County Fair invited Orange County to celebrate its official 125th birthday on August 1. The OC Fair is open from noon to midnight for Wednesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to midnight on Saturdays and Sundays. The County’s event officially opened the Fair’s day with the national anthem, sung by Veronica Moreno of the Orange County Clerk-Recorder’s office, while the U.S. Flag was raised on The Hangar building. Veronica was a participant in the 2005 season of “Objectivo Fama,” the Latin version of “American Idol,” and she proved why she qualified to compete on that show. Wow! This was followed by a slide show of historic OC photos, a brief history of how Orange County became the “second” 53rd county by yours truly, and then Happy Birthday wishes from Orange County Clerk-Recorder Hugh Nguyen, Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector Shari Freidenrich, and Orange County Supervisor Pat Bates. Veronica Moreno then led us in “Happy Birthday To You.” I want to thank all those who were able to attend and participate. Special thanks go to the Orange County Fair, the Orange County Business Council for the birthday cake and cupcakes (that went so quickly that I didn’t even get to eat one), and the Auto Club of Southern California for the special “Orange County Quasquicentennial Historical Maps” that were handed out. These maps will also be available at the Orange County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, August 5th. The OC Register covered our special milestone event in the first piece below. (The OC Fair will be celebrating its quasquicentennial next year!)
ABC Channel 7 Los Angeles covered the Thursday morning press conference (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Happy Quasquicentennial — August 1, 2014) in the second piece below.
Happy birthday, Orange County
Small celebration at the fair marks area’s 125th year.
Veronica Moreno, a staff assistant at the Orange County Clerk/Recorder’s office, sings the national anthem with a backdrop of various fair foods to begin the 125th birthday celebration.
NICK AGRO, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach gave a brief history of the county’s early days during the birthday celebration Friday.
NICK AGRO, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Cupcakes were decorated with the seal of Orange County.
NICK AGRO, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Orange County opted for a low-key celebration of its 125th birthday Friday afternoon at the OC Fair.
The intimate gathering commemorating the county’s independence from Los Angeles County drew a crowd of about 20 residents and visitors to the fair’s Hangar stage, including Yorba Linda resident Elaine Majam, 58, and her daughter Andie, 23.
“It’s a great place to live. It’s very family-oriented and there’s lots of things to do,” said Majam. “I don’t know why anybody would want to live anywhere else.”
While historical milestones don’t necessarily draw big crowds, Friday’s celebration at the fair was a way to commemorate 125 years of becoming a “little slice of heaven,” as Orange County Supervisor Pat Bates put it.
The Costa Mesa-based Andrew E. Barrett Trio played music from the 1880s before and after the event from the Hangar stage.
Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach gave a brief history of the county’s early days. Historic pictures from the county archives rolled behind him and passers-by enjoyed free cake and cupcakes as he explained why the secession from Los Angeles was a matter of convenience more than anything.
In 1870, when residents here began taking steps to become a county, “it took more than seven hours to get to Los Angeles,” Moorlach said.
Some in the audience muttered that this may still be the case, depending on what time of day you land on the I-405.
At the time California became a state, most of the 27 existing counties were clustered in Northern California, where mining and gold industries lured the state’s residents. After about the 1850s, counties like Fresno, San Bernardino and Merced cropped up, hoping to create a closer county seat for residents in their areas, Moorlach said.
On Aug. 1, 1889, this small chuck of land in the shadow of Los Angeles became the state’s 53rd county. The counties of Kings, Madera and Riverside followed. Imperial County was the state’s 58th and final county.
Though in some ways, Orange County is still identified as north of San Diego and south of Los Angeles, it has become a destination for its beaches, mountain trails and school systems, Moorlach said.
For 10-year-old Angel Sicairos of Anaheim, you don’t need to know much about history to know what makes Orange County great.
“They grow a lot of oranges here and it’s fun too,” he said.
Politicians oppose Orange County 405 Freeway toll lanes
By Eileen Frere
There’s strong opposition in Orange County to toll-lane plans announced by Caltrans for the 405 Freeway.
Huntington Beach resident Bridget Johnson home-schools her children and travels the 405 Freeway every day to get to activities across Orange County. She says she worries about talk of toll lanes.
"We depend on the freeway and I absolutely cannot afford a toll road. I’m having trouble affording the price of gas right now," said Johnson.
That concern is echoed by local politicians from several cities along the 14-mile stretch of the 405 from Costa Mesa to Seal Beach. About 400,000 drivers use the corridor every day.
"We want our money going to free lanes," said Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach.
Last week Caltrans, despite opposition, decided on a plan that adds one free general-purpose lane in each direction, paid for through Measure M with a 1/2-cent sales tax approved by voters, as well as a high-occupancy toll, or "HOT" lane. Caltrans says it would combine with the existing carpool lane to create two express lanes in each direction.
"It’s a combination of the two," said Caltrans Spokesman David Richardson. "If you have the right number of people in the car, the required occupancy, it’s just like an HOV lane. You get to ride for free."
"If you put toll lanes in, it’s a money grab," said state Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa). "Who can afford $10 to $15? Seniors can’t afford it. Low-income families cannot afford it."
Caltrans says the cost of the tolls has not yet been worked out. The agency also denies any Measure M money will be used to pay for the express lanes.
"We just don’t know where those funds are going to come from at the moment," said Richardson.
While Caltrans says it tries to find a way to pay for its plan, it insists the "HOT" lanes will allow about 2,300 more vehicles per hour during peak hours than if it added just one free lane in each direction.
"It’s going to reduce the trip time," said Richardson. "Because remember, anybody that’s in one of these two lanes is taking a vehicle out of the general-purpose lanes, so it benefits everybody."
"I would say to the people of Orange County: You’re informed, you’re intelligent, you’re affluent. Stand up and have your voices heard," said Los Alamitos Mayor Gerri Graham-Mejia.
Officials assay that $1.3 billion will come from Measure M money. It will be up to Caltrans to figure out how to come up with the remaining $400 million for the HOT lanes.
Construction of the free lanes is scheduled to begin in 2016.
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