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News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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Surviving the Death Ride

Photo Courtesy Of Pam Kelly

Bradley Erickson of Los Altos reaches Carson Pass cycling in the 29th annual Death Ride July 11. The ride features five passes.

In a little more than a year, Bradley Erickson has gone from road-bike beginner to Death Ride survivor.

The Los Altos resident July 11 completed perhaps the most grueling cycling event in Northern California, the 29th annual Death Ride, which brings riders from all over the world to the tiny town of Markleeville each year.

"I started cycling last year, and my goal was to get in shape," the 40-year-old Erickson said. "I set the bar higher this year. This was the hardest physical challenge I've done so far."

With 15,000 feet of climbing, the Death Ride is a challenge for the lungs, muscles and mind. The 129-mile ride through an area of Alpine County nicknamed "the California Alps" features five mountain passes and rivals the climb of any stage of this summer's Tour de France.

Nearly 3,000 people enter every year, but far fewer finish. There's a reason the logo for the 2009 Death Ride was a skull and crossbones – the climb is a killer.

Nearly half of the participants surrender along the way. If climbing both sides of Monitor Pass (elevation: 8,314 feet) doesn't get you, traversing both sides of Ebbetts Pass (8,730) just might, or simply the thought of still having to get over the east side of Carson Pass (8,574) before coasting to the finish at Turtle Rock Park.

"All the peaks are pretty high," Erickson said. "Ebbetts Peak is higher than the highest peak in this year's Tour de France. (The hardest part) was just getting up and over those peaks, and doing five of them and 129 miles in one day."

Erickson conquered the course in 9 1/2 hours. He embarked at 5 a.m., made a few quick stops for water and finished by 2:30 p.m.

"That's really fast," teammate Leah Toeniskoetter said.

Toeniskoetter should know – she's participated in the last four Death Rides. The San Jose resident was captain of Erickson's team, which pedaled with a purpose. The 25 members raised money for TurningWheels for Kids, a Bay Area non-profit organization that provides bikes to low-income children at Christmas.

Erickson's involvement with TurningWheels began before he even imagined taking on the Death Ride. Erickson and his son Drew, a fourth-grader at Almond School, have participated in the last two TurningWheels for Kids Bike Builds, at which hundreds of volunteers gather each December in downtown San Jose to assemble the bicycles that will be given away. Approximately 2,000 bikes were built this year, according to Erickson.

"It's a great cause," Erickson said of TurningWheels, which turns every $75 in donations into a new bike, helmet and lock for a needy child. "It was nice to do (the Death Ride) for my favorite charity."

The last Bike Build is where Erickson first dared to dream about the Death Ride. Co-workers from Cisco Systems participating in the project pointed him toward Toeniskoetter and her TurningWheels team.

"It was a perfect fit," Erickson said.

He began training with the team at the end of February, taking part in organized rides every other weekend that often went from the valley to the coast. Erickson said he enjoyed the support of his teammates and learned valuable lessons about nutrition and how to handle the elevation from Death Ride veteran Toeniskoetter.

"Leah gave me a lot of good advice," he said. "She's amazing."

Erickson also prepared on his own, biking to work (nearly 28 miles roundtrip) two to three times a week.

"I didn't have to train as much as you'd think," he said.

Whatever Erickson did, it worked. Not even the dreaded elevation gain of the Death Ride intimidated him.

"It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be," said Erickson, who grew up playing hockey in northern Minnesota. "When I was finished, I thought, ‘I really want to do this again next year.'"

Count Toeniskoetter among those impressed with Erickson, who joined her in the group of 14 TurningWheel members to finish the ride.

"He's incredible," she said. "He's a strong rider with a great attitude."

Erickson's biggest concern before the event wasn't riding but raising – funds, that is ­– for the team's cause.

"I was nervous about the ride, but I may have been more nervous about raising money," said Erickson, who moved to Los Altos five years ago. "But people were very generous – it was really impressive."

Erickson said he raised $2,000, exceeding his goal of collecting enough to provide 20-25 bikes for children in need.

The TurningWheels team raised $35,000, doubling its goal.

"It was a huge effort, especially in this tough economy," said Toeniskoetter, who raised $12,000. "It's a great way to make a positive impact at Christmas, especially this year."

For more information on TurningWheels for Kids or to make a tax-deductible donation, visit www.turningwheelsforkids.org.

Contact Pete Borello at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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