Harbor View Elementary School students honored veterans Tuesday in an assembly that included songs, stories and tributes to men and women who have served and are serving the United States of America.
"We want you to understand," said Stan Jones, who has a granddaughter in sixth grade at the school. "Let me tell you kids, we went because we love our country, but you are our country. We went for you guys so you don't have to go again."
Jones said he joined the service at the age of 18 — 66 years ago. The year was 1944.
"I was proud to go," he told the audience. "I soon found out, war is not fun. It's hell. It's blood, sweat and tears."
More than a dozen veterans from World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War and Desert Storm told their stories, and students Julia and Brian Shard told the audience about their father, Scott Shard, who is currently in Afghanistan serving in the U.S. Army.
"Every night when I lie safe in my bed, I pray he is safe there, too," Julia said. "I'm so grateful and proud."
The school's nurse, Cindy Gainey, told the students that she served as a medic in Germany in the 1970s.
"Women can serve, too," she said.
Several mothers attended the ceremony in fact, including a woman who flew a Marine helicopter for presidents before she was injured and spent 19 months in the hospital. Other veterans also told of being shot and injured while on active duty.
The school's Boy Scout troops conducted a flag ceremony, and Girl Scouts and Brownies sang a medley of patriotic songs for five of the military branches. The students also sang "America the Beautiful" and "Proud To Be An American."
Part of the festivities included a special welcome to a Harbor View family who became U.S. citizens just two weeks ago.
Atessa and Amir Markazi and their two sons, third-grader Faraz and sixth-grader Farbod, received a gift basket filled with red, white and blue items while the audience cheered.
"You just get born," Principal Charlene Metoyer told the students. "They had to take tests, and they are hard."
"It's been challenging for the past five years," Amir Markazi said. "But lucky us to have landed in such a beautiful city in the state of California."
Harbor View has held Veterans Day assemblies for about eight years, when former Principal Mellissia Christensen began to organize them to honor her uncle.
"This is our favorite day at Harbor View," Metoyer said. "We love our country and our veterans."
Water district directed to pay fines
Irvine Ranch Water District should pay $43,099 in fines for a spill that contaminated Buck Gully and Little Corona Beach with 26,725 gallons of untreated sewage this past summer, according to the California Regional Water Quality Control Board.
The spill occurred July 2, when a pipe fitting cracked at a pump station in Newport Coast. For 10 hours, sewage flowed from the station along Buck Gully Creek to Little Corona Beach three miles away. Crews tried to protect the beach with gravel bags around the spill area, but the sewage continued to leak through, according to a letter sent this week to Irvine Ranch Water District officials.
"Finally at 6 p.m., a gravel bag containment berm was built along Buck Gully Creek at the entrance to Little Corona del Mar Beach," the letter states. "The gravel bag containment berm did not provide a complete containment for the spilled sewage. A combined total of 26,725 gallons of untreated sewage were discharged into Buck Gully Creek (from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on July 2, 2010) and eventually to Little Corona Del Mar Beach."
IRWD reports state that 5,850 gallons of the sewage were recovered, the letter said.
The Orange County Health Care Agency closed the beach as a precautionary measure at 12:35 p.m. on July 2 — the Friday of the July 4 holiday weekend. At the time, Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff said, "The timing couldn't be worse."
The agency did not collect beach water samples that day for logistic reasons, and samples collected the next two days did not exceed state standards, the letter states. The beach reopened on Monday, July 5.
The fine was determined using equations and formulas for the amount of waste discharged, the history of violations, cleanup effort and cooperation as well as factors including the risk factor of the discharged material, which the letter states was "above moderate risk."
The letter praises IRWD crews for their prompt response to the spill.
"(T)hey mobilized staff, equipment and mutual aid support from surrounding municipal agencies to control most of the overflowing sewage," the letter states. "They also mobilized contractor resources to make emergency repairs to the force main once the bypass system was put into operation."
However, the letter states, the crews waited too long to create a containment system at the spill site and at the mouth of Buck Gully Creek, where the containment system wasn't in place for 6 1/2 hours.
"With proper planning and implementation, the spill could have been fully contained within the spill site if effective containment berms were built," the letter states. "By using gravel bags, the sewage continued to leak through the containment berms at both locations."
Irvine Ranch Water District has the right to a hearing before the Regional Board, which is scheduled for Jan. 21, 2011. However, the company could waive its right to a hearing and pay the fine.
An e-mail to an IRWD spokeswoman seeking comment was not immediately answered.
Coast Highway hydrant replaced
Crews spent several days this week replacing a fire hydrant on East Coast Highway at Hazel Drive following a crash last week that caused floods in three businesses.
The pre-dawn crash occurred when an unlicensed driver hit a newspaper rack, three trees and then came to rest on the hydrant, which caused water to spray for about two hours.
City officials said it could take a few weeks to tally the cost of the crash, including the water that was lost, and to figure how much the driver should be billed. The driver was not injured but was cited for driving without a license.