Lakeside’s new sign of the times

Photo by Gary E. Mitrovich. Lakeside Chamber of Commerce CEO Kathy Kassel (left) and Jerry Mosier of the Helping Our Way nonprofit pose in front of the new Lakeside community sign before its placement high overhead. The pair have worked together for eight years to get to this point.

On Tuesday, July 16, 2019, the new Lakeside community sign was installed, to the delight of many residents who had gathered early to watch and cheer on the culmination of eight long, hard years.

The 32 and a half foot high marker stretches 67 feet across the north end of Maine Avenue. It is clearly visible to those using the busy and highly-congested intersection of Highway 67 and Mapleview Street, in any direction. It can even be seen from the other end of town, upon entering Lakeside from the south.

The Lakeside Community Archway Project was a joint effort between the local Chamber of Commerce and the Helping Our Way nonprofit organization.

While community signs are nothing new within incorporated cities such as San Diego, this is the very first such sign to crown an unincorporated town within the County of San Diego. The distinction is unique.

The community of Ramona has long sought a similar sign and should soon have it. But, after a friendly competition to be first across the finish line, Lakeside took the gold medal.

Such a feat is not as easy as it may sound. Eight years ago, the county had no regulations or ordinances to allow such a sign.

“We spent the first five years on the project changing the regulations so we could even have a community sign,” said Jerry Mosier of Helping Our Way. “Then it took three years to get it made and installed.”

There were, of course, other delays and frustrations along the way. The south end of town was considered, but right-of-way issues forced the sign to the opposite end of town. Then there was the problem with the footings and how deeply they needed to be drilled to ensure the sign was sturdy and safe.

“We had a little conflict between the soil testers and the engineers,” Mosier said, referring to the issue of the river sand upon which much of Lakeside is built. “We wanted to get it right because the sign is going to be there for a long time.”

The final depth for the footings was 27 feet, so the sign is nearly as deep as it is tall.

The project was a community effort, with Mosier and Chamber CEO Kathy Kassel at the proverbial helm and doing the heavy lifting.

Residents, businesses and service organizations gave constant and unequivocal support. Lakeside artist David Ybarra designed the original lettering; resident Jesse Perkins and his Sign Age company designed and fabricated those letters.

Local businesses Clark Steel Fabricators and Bob’s Crane Service put together, transported and installed the 7,000-pound structure.

County supervisor Dianne Jacob was also key, helping with $42,500 in Neighborhood Reinvestment Program grant money, in addition to support and guidance through an often-complicated procedural process.

“I don’t think I could have done this with anyone else but Jerry (Mosier),” Kassel said as the sign was finally being installed. “He never gave up or got frustrated. And I know when Jerry starts something, he finishes it.”

The sign did not come cheap and the $131,000 price tag is not quite yet covered, so fundraising continues.

Lighting has yet to be funded and an additional smaller sign proclaiming “Established in 1886” may be added later. Rotating banners below the main sign will help defray continuing costs.

There will be an official sign dedication ceremony on site – the north end of Maine Avenue in Lakeside – on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019 at 11:00 a.m.

Lakeside’s new sign of the times