Orange County Branch Newsletter
A Celebration of the OC Branch and All That Was Accomplished
By Steven King, P.E.
By: Steven King, PE
As each year comes to a close, I like to look back and remind myself of personal and professional successes and achievements. ASCE Orange County is no different, and I hope you enjoy in reminiscing our branch’s highlights as much as I have.
In January, OC YMF hosted a Holocaust Memorial Presentation featuring Henry Oster, Holocaust survivor from the City of Koeln. Our meeting venue was packed with standing room only as attendees listened to Henry’s deeply touching story of his unique experiences. Henry also provided attendees the opportunity to receive a signed copy of his book The Kindness of the Hangman.
In March, ASCE Region 9 held their annual awards dinner at the San Diego Air & Space Museum in conjunction with the ASCE San Diego Section Centennial Celebration. I was thrilled to return to San Diego where I spent several years living and working and was honored to receive the award for Outstanding Civil Engineer in Legislative Activities. Three other individuals from Orange County also received awards including Past Presidents Kathereen Shinkai, P.E. for the Outstanding ASCE Section Officer and Steven Marvin, P.E. for the Outstanding ASCE Life Member. Joel Kotkin, Editorial Board Member of the Orange County Register, also earned the award for Excellence in Journalism for his article, “California Bad to Its Bones,” where he emphasizes the need for infrastructure spending and prioritization. Three Orange County projects also received awards: Broadrock Renewable Energy Program – Olinda Landfill for Outstanding Energy Project; Laguna Altura (PA 18) for Outstanding Urban/Land Development Project; and Plant No. 2 Headworks Replacement for Outstanding Wastewater Treatment Project. It was a proud moment to see my fellow engineers and our local infrastructure projects recognized for their contributions to transportation in California.
In April, YMF held its second annual Jog-a-Thon at Crean Lutheran High School to support our three Student Chapters – Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Long Beach, and UC Irvine. With nearly 100 participants on a Saturday morning, this event continues to grow in attendance and provided a great opportunity to network with our future generation of engineers while also keeping our heart and minds healthy.
In June, Governor Brown called the California State Legislature to a special session to fix how California funds roads, highways and other infrastructure. There are several proposals up for discussion such as increasing the gasoline excise tax, adding an inflation factor to the gasoline excise tax, adding a new road fixed fee per vehicle, increasing the vehicle license fee, and returning the truck weight fees from the General Fund to the State Highway Account and several streamlining concepts. The Assembly Republican Caucus has since laid out a $6.6 billion plan to fund transportation infrastructure with existing resources.
Over the summer, YMF and OC Branch hosted an informal mentorship program at Irvine Bowling Lanes, attracting more than 20 pairs of mentors and mentees. This year’s mentorship program has been a major highlight for our branch and the program’s success will be highlighted in a presentation at the Region 8 & 9 Workshop for Section and Branch Leaders next month in Anchorage, Alaska.
In September, we hosted a sold-out End of Summer Mixer in Laguna Beach at Las Brisas Restaurant with more than 100 people in attendance. The Social Committee did an amazing job organizing and planning this event and creatively included a live auction for one-on-one time with key transportation leaders which drew more excitement than I’ve ever seen amongst a group of engineers! We were honored to have Darrell Johnson, OCTA Chief Executive Officer, Ryan Chamberlain, Caltrans District 12 Director, Michael Kraman, TCA Chief Executive Officer, Shane Silsby, OC Public Works Director, Paul Cook, IRWD General Manager, Natalie Meeks, City of Anaheim Public Works Director, John Chun, Port of Long Beach Director of Engineering Design, and Fred Minagar, City of Laguna Niguel, City Council Member participate in this event and I thank each of our VIP guests who generously donated their time and money to ASCE.
In October, ASCE Los Angeles Section held their annual awards luncheon at the Proud Bird at LAX Airport. OC Branch Project of the Year award winner, ARTIC, was recognized along with four OC Branch members including Gidti Ludesirishoti, P.E. for Outstanding Younger Member, Ken Rosenfield, P.E. F.ASCE for Outstanding Civil Engineer in Legislative Activities, Yaz Emrani, P.E. for Outstanding Civil Engineer in the Private Sector, and Bill Lawson, P.E F.ASCE earned the President’s Award.
Last month, the branch hosted its annual History & Heritage / Student Night dinner at the Santa Ana Heritage Museum. We welcomed ASCE Region 9 Director/Chair, Jay Higgins, P.E. F. ASCE, Region 9 Governors Kwame Agyare, P.E., John Hogan, P.E. and Ken Rosenfield, P.E. F.ASCE along with 30 OC Branch Past Presidents and 90 students. I was very proud of our scholarship winners as well as each of the student chapter presentations. Cal State Long Beach received the Outstanding Student Chapter Award and Tatiana Braun of Cal State Long Beach was awarded the “Ignacio G. Ochoa” Student of the Year Scholarship.
On Dec. 4, President Obama signed the FAST Act into law increasing funding by 11 percent over five years and authorizing a total of $305 billion for transportation projects. Many ASCE members have tirelessly advocated for a long-term transportation bill and after 10 years and 36 short term extensions (but who’s counting), the transportation industry is again able to count on a long-term program.
I look back at 2015 as a celebration for our Branch; with individual accomplishments, engineering achievements, advancement of our profession, and the improvements to our community. I thank you for your continued support and dedication to our Branch and our industry. I’m looking forward to ringing in the New Year with the excitement and passion that will make 2016 even better!