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Historic arch relighted
Orland residents turned out Tuesday in cold and blustery weather for an historic occasion — the relighting of the Orland Arch.
Cars lined both sides of Sixth Street in preparation for the 6:45 p.m. ceremony as traffic slowed down and watched when the lights came on, again.
City Council members, Economic Development commissioners and Orland Fire Department volunteers assembled on the landmark's south side as community members observed.
Gary Campbell served as the master of ceremonies before climbing a ladder and flipping the switch.
He praised the completion of the community project paid for with donations from local business owners and civic groups.
"The community made this happen," Campbell said. "Multiple organizations worked together. We are close in Orland and getting closer (as a community)."
A donation of $5,000 from store owner Eddie Grewal put the $7,500 project over the top, he said. The Barceloux-Tibessart Foundation donated $2,500.
Other contributors include the Orland Pride organization, which plans to landscape the area around the arch with rocks and decorative items that require little maintenance.
Electrician Steve Halsey wired the lights.
Historian Gene Russell spoke about the arch's history that dates back to the 1920s.
He read an editorial from the Orland Unit newspaper in 1925 calling for a sign that would let others know Orland was there.
Finally, Mrs. I.R. Mecum led the effort to build the arch, he said, by writing a play, "Election Day in Pumpkinville," and putting it on as fundraiser.
In 1926, the landmark was built of concrete and stucco along with rock from nearby Stony Creek.
Today, the original fixtures are repainted and placed on the arch, and it was built to resemble the bow in a covered wagon.
The new LED lights should prove economical, Campbell said, and the plastic retro-looking bulb covers should be durable.
Campbell pushed relighting the arch for years through the Economic Development Commission after taking the reins from former Commissioner Leon Ponci.
The goal is to show off the landmark at night as a tourist attraction.
"This is so exciting," EDC Commissioner Helen Duree said. "Every little bit helps. First, we lit the water tower and now the arch. We will get Orland lit up."
New Commissioner Edgar Valenzuela also was impressed when the lights came on.
"It is awesome," he said. "I am surprised how much light there is. They did a great job."
Area residents also expressed pride in the project.
"It is absolutely wonderful," Bonnie Morgan said. "I am so delighted to see Orland recognize its heritage by displaying the positive aspects of our town. This is a great representation of that."
Lisa Tietz said it looks wonderful and everybody did a really good job.
"They just swooped in and did it," Tietz said.