IMPERIAL — The Imperial County Department of Public Works hosted an unveiling ceremony Friday morning to dedicate the Forrester Road Overpass at I-8 west of El Centro to the late S. Harry Orfanos in honor of his numerous years of service for Imperial County.
Earlier this year, the Imperial County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution to name the bridge in memory of former Imperial County Department of Public Works (ICDPW) Director S. Harry Orfanos. The dedication recognized the many accomplishments Orfanos achieved throughout his 31 years of devoted service for the county.
Native to Imperial County, Orfanos passed away in 2012. He began working for ICDPW as an assistant civil Eengineer in 1965, and served in various positions throughout the years. He earned appointment to the director position in December 1985, a post he served in until his retirement in March 1996. During his time as director, he was responsible for designing, constructing and maintaining the county’s roads and bridges.
“Mr. Orfanos was a Calexico resident, born and raised, and has a big history from the early part of the century as his parents were Greek immigrants,” said John Renison, District 1 supervisor. “He made a big impression and a big imprint on our county as a ICDPW director. Mr. Orfanos will always be remembered.”
In 1989, Orfanos introduced a one-half cent transportation tax increase known as Measure D, that was earmarked to go directly to the cities and the county to pay for critical road repair projects.
“Mr. Orfanos’ efforts were instrumental since he was the first to introduce the one-half cent transportation tax, known as Measure D, which resulted in revenues and continue to provide transportation benefits for the County of Imperial and the cities,” said Renison. “That is very important because we would not have been able to keep up with county roads if it wasn’t for Mr. Orfanos’ efforts. This is a well-deserved recognition.”
Family members, friends and co-workers attended the ceremony including Orfanos’ daughter Cindy Orfanos Nickus.
“Our dad was a man of great honor with great work ethic who did his job competently, not because of the accolades and praise he would receive, but because what was expected of him,” said Nickus. “Today he would be embarrassed because he was very humble, but I know he would be very appreciative and proud. This dedication is definitely a blessing to our family.”
Former colleague Frank Fiorenza also spoke and recalled being hired by Orfanos in 1991 and said Orfanos had a great work ethic.
“He made a big difference in my career at the Imperial County Public Works Department,” said Florenza. “Harry was an awesome boss.”
ICDPW Deputy Director of Field Operations Lucio Martinez said he gained an uncle during the first six months of his employment with the ICDPW.
“When I first started here (at ICDPW) back when Mr. Orfanos hired me, I was in the department for about six months and all of a sudden I had a new uncle,” said Martinez. “They (co-workers) told me, I heard you were related to Mr. Orfanos and I said, ‘What?’ and said, ‘No I’m not. I didn’t know I had a famous uncle.’”
Another co-worker Ismael Gomez admired Orfanos for always making his family the first priority.
“Mr. Orfanos would walk the offices five minutes after 5:00 p.m. and he would tell us to go home to our families and would remind us daily that family was first,” said Gomez. “Mr. Orfanos taught me to be the best I can be and be as professional as I can. He was a great boss and a great supervisor and a big mentor.”
William S. Brunet, the current Imperial County Director of Public Works, said he tries every day to fill Orfanos’ shoes, and commented that it is a daunting task.