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Orange County

By Jill Cowan | March 26, 2014
After two years of negotiations marked by back-and-forth accusations of political chicanery, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a new contract with the county's biggest employee union Tuesday. The agreement between the county and the Orange County Employees Assn. — which represents about 12,000 workers under 393 different job classifications — will be in place through June 2015. The new contract's provisions include a 1.25% raise, as well as a one-time bonus of the same amount, which current employees will receive next month.
By Hannah Fry | March 24, 2014
Sweaty and visibly exhausted from their mile-long run, a group of boys from Harbor View Elementary School stood in a circle showing off their newly earned participation medals. A parent walked over and high-fived each boy. Ben Schaefer, a fifth-grader at Harbor View, shared his secret for a successful run with his friends. "They tell you to jog so you won't get tired, but I always sprint," the 11-year-old said. He admits, though, that he did get the dreaded side stitch that plagues even the most experienced runner.
March 24, 2014
Five Orange County high school students, including three from Costa Mesa's Estancia High, recently received portions of a $115,000 Girls Inc. scholarship, according to a news release. All the girls are members of Girls Inc.'s Orange County chapter, based in Costa Mesa, and are first-generation college students. The recipients are junior Melanie Hercules and seniors Briseida Miranda and Jennifer Lopez, all of Estancia High; senior Amber Gibson of Edison High School in Huntington Beach; and senior Emily Ramos of Garden Grove High School.
By Anh Do | March 20, 2014
Orange County's vast network of toll roads will go cashless this spring, shutting down all of its toll booths and eliminating the need to fish for exact change. Motorists who travel the 51 miles of toll lanes can continue to use the FasTrak passes, which are scanned as drivers pass through toll plazas, or shift to a newly created ExpressAccount. The conversion will affect all of the county's toll roads -- the 73, 133, 241 and the 261 -- starting in May. The new ExpressAccount will operate on a vehicle identification system, with cars' license plates being scanned at toll plazas.
By Hannah Fry | March 20, 2014
Sophomores at Corona del Mar High School tossed aside their textbooks Thursday and welcomed a new way of learning about history: through the eyes of a veteran. More than 80 military men and women, some dressed in full uniform adorned with medals and other accolades, and countless teenagers filed into the gym for the annual Living History Program luncheon. The lunch is the culmination of the program, which has sophomore world history and European history students work together in small groups to interview a veteran about his or her experiences in the military.
By Anh Do, Los Angeles Times | March 15, 2014
A man known as the "Snowboarder Bandit" was sentenced Friday to two years in state prison for robbing nine Orange County banks -- adding to the time he received last month of seven years and eight months in Riverside County.   Michael Brandon Franks of Riverside will serve the terms consecutively. He pleaded guilty last year in Orange County to a court offer to 10 felony counts of second-degree robbery and two felony counts of attempted second-degree robbery.   Then in February, Franks, 31, also pleaded guilty in Riverside County to four felony counts of burglary, three felony counts of robbery and two felony counts of attempted robbery.
By Jill Cowan | March 15, 2014
Posted unobtrusively low in the floor-to-ceiling front window of a trendy salad joint or fading in its plastic sleeve at the sushi place next door, the orange-ringed seal has for decades been a great equalizer of sorts among Orange County restaurants - theoretically useful, but often unnoticed. Now, an Orange County Grand Jury report recommends that those orange rings be switched out in favor of a stoplight-style color code, reviving a long-simmering debate over the county's restaurant health rating system.
March 14, 2014
The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, a high-profile advocate for gay rights in Christianity, will speak Sunday at Resurrection Beach Metropolitan Community Church in Costa Mesa. Wilson is the moderator of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, a denomination that emphasizes support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. She has served on President Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and is the author of "Our Tribe: Queer Folks, God, Jesus and the Bible.
By Jill Cowan | March 11, 2014
Saying he'd like to focus on finishing out his current job, Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach is dropping his congressional campaign, he announced Monday night. "I was moving forward, having fun, but my team would say, 'How are you doing on fundraising?'" he said Tuesday morning. "The job I have is my top priority. " Moorlach, a Republican, first hinted at his candidacy in July after ruling out a run for governor against incumbent Jerry Brown. In January, he will be termed out of the Board of Supervisors, where he represents District 2, which includes Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach and Newport Beach.
By Jill Cowan | March 7, 2014
A recent study says many of Orange County's supermarkets and convenience stores make buying tobacco, alcohol and other unhealthy items too convenient for kids. The study is part of a statewide campaign called Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community, which aims to improve Californians' health by "informing them about the impacts of unhealthy product marketing in the retail environment," according to an Orange County Health Care Agency news release. The survey - which included data from more than 7,300 businesses ranging from big-box chains to drug stores in all of California's 58 counties - found that 76.7% of tobacco retailers in Orange County sell flavored tobacco products and are near schools.
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