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Last updateWed, 29 Jun 2016 8am

News

LAH council weighs short-term occupancy tax

The next time Beyoncé and the Biebs hit up their favorite Los Altos Hills Airbnb listing, the pop stars may discover that the price has jumped – again.

Beyoncé Knowles paid $10,000 per night for her February Super Bowl digs, a contemporary 9,8...

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Schools

St. Nicholas Catholic School goes solar

St. Nicholas Catholic School goes solar


Courtesy of SilRay
St. Nicholas School recently added 105 SilRay solar panels to its roof to help reduce energy costs and spread environmental awareness to students.

Los Altos-based SilRay recently completed a solar installation project at St. Nich...

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Community

Bill Almon: LAH resident led fight against quarry to the end

Bill Almon: LAH resident led fight against quarry to the end


Bill Almon, a Los Altos Hills environmental activist who led a prominent campaign to shut down the Lehigh Hanson Cement Plant and quarry, died June 13 after a lengthy illness. Mr. Almon was 83.

A native of St. Louis, Mr. Almon earned a bachelor...

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Sports

SF baseball coach switches to softball

After 10 years as St. Francis High’s baseball coach, Mike Oakland is making the switch to softball.

Oakland – who guided the Lancers to three Central Coast Section titles and six consecutive West Catholic Athletic League crowns – w...

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Comment

Letters to the Editor

Los Altos coyotes must be removed

There have been several coyote attacks in highly populated areas, in broad daylight, in the South Clark Avenue area of Los Altos recently.

These aggressive hunter-scavengers represent a clear danger, not only to pe...

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Special Sections

From derelict to desirable: House flipper transforms old properties into showstoppers

From derelict to desirable: House flipper transforms old properties into showstoppers


Megan V. WInslow/Town Crier
Mary Randazzo purchases older homes in Mountain View to “flip” after they undergo a makeover. Her transformed houses feature open floor plans and she searches for properties with “good bones.”

Amy...

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Business

Young skaters learn to push,  carve and yield downtown

Young skaters learn to push, carve and yield downtown


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Skateworks instructor Andrew Langi teaches Mountain View resident Carter Cox, 8, the rules of the sidewalk.

You’ve seen them downtown: pint-sized athletes, decked in pads and helmets, learning the etiquette of four-wh...

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People

RICHARD MILTON LEWIS

Richard Milton Lewis of Ponte Vedra, Florida, passed away peacefully at home on 13 June 2016. He will be reunited with his wife of 49 years, Claudia Stoney Lewis. He is survived by his four children, twelve grandchildren and three great-grandchildren...

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News

LAH council weighs short-term occupancy tax

The next time Beyoncé and the Biebs hit up their favorite Los Altos Hills Airbnb listing, the pop stars may discover that the price has jumped – again.

Beyoncé Knowles paid $10,000 per night for her February Super Bowl digs, a contemporary 9,800-square-foot mansion located off Moody Road. By ...

Readmore

Business

Young skaters learn to push, carve and yield downtown

Young skaters learn to push,  carve and yield downtown

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Skateworks instructor Andrew Langi teaches Mountain View resident Carter Cox, 8, the rules of the sidewalk.

You’ve seen them downtown: pint-sized athletes, decked in pads and helmets, learning the etiquette of four-wheel, two-sneaker navigation from an overseer. But ...

Readmore

Sports

SF baseball coach switches to softball

After 10 years as St. Francis High’s baseball coach, Mike Oakland is making the switch to softball.

Oakland – who guided the Lancers to three Central Coast Section titles and six consecutive West Catholic Athletic League crowns – will try to turn around a softball team coming off ...

Readmore

Community

Bill Almon: LAH resident led fight against quarry to the end

Bill Almon: LAH resident led fight against quarry to the end

Bill Almon, a Los Altos Hills environmental activist who led a prominent campaign to shut down the Lehigh Hanson Cement Plant and quarry, died June 13 after a lengthy illness. Mr. Almon was 83.

A native of St. Louis, Mr. Almon earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the U....

Readmore

Comment

Letters to the Editor

Los Altos coyotes must be removed

There have been several coyote attacks in highly populated areas, in broad daylight, in the South Clark Avenue area of Los Altos recently.

These aggressive hunter-scavengers represent a clear danger, not only to pets, but to children and fragile adults. Humans tha...

Readmore

Spiritual Life

Islam's holy month of fasting, prayer and charity ends with joyful holiday

For the more than 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, Ramadan has begun.

Observed the ninth month of the Islamic calendar (this year beginning at sundown June 6 in the U.S. – dates vary slightly by country), Ramadan is a time of fasting, prayer and charitable activities. It is considered on...

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People

RICHARD MILTON LEWIS

Richard Milton Lewis of Ponte Vedra, Florida, passed away peacefully at home on 13 June 2016. He will be reunited with his wife of 49 years, Claudia Stoney Lewis. He is survived by his four children, twelve grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Richard was born in Topeka, Kansas and was a chi...

Readmore

Schools

St. Nicholas Catholic School goes solar

St. Nicholas Catholic School goes solar

Courtesy of SilRay
St. Nicholas School recently added 105 SilRay solar panels to its roof to help reduce energy costs and spread environmental awareness to students.

Los Altos-based SilRay recently completed a solar installation project at St. Nicholas Catholic School.

Readmore

Special Sections

From derelict to desirable: House flipper transforms old properties into showstoppers

From derelict to desirable: House flipper transforms old properties into showstoppers

Megan V. WInslow/Town Crier
Mary Randazzo purchases older homes in Mountain View to “flip” after they undergo a makeover. Her transformed houses feature open floor plans and she searches for properties with “good bones.”

Amy Randazzo is improving neighborhoods one house at ...

Readmore

Stepping Out

LA Stage Company reveals lineup for 21st season

Los Altos Stage Company recently announced its lineup for its 21st season, scheduled September to June at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

The season’s lineup features two musicals and three plays.

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Obituaries

RICHARD MILTON LEWIS

Richard Milton Lewis of Ponte Vedra, Florida, passed away peacefully at home on 13 June 2016. He will be reunited with his wife of 49 years, Claudia Stoney Lewis. He is survived by his four children, twelve grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Richard was born in Topeka, Kansas and was a chi...

Readmore

Magazine

Aging Matters: Take preventive steps to avoid slips and falls

Aging Matters: Take preventive steps to avoid slips and falls

Courtesy of silver sneakers
An exercise program like Silver Sneakers Fitness can help seniors with strength, balance and flexibility.

The statistics on seniors who slip and fall are startling. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

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Going green underground: You CAN take it with you when it comes to environmental values

Photo Town Crier File PhotoA field of flowers or a terrace of trees – green burials offer an environmentally friendly alternative to today's marble-stone cemeteries.
Lowering your carbon footprint – it’s all about switching from regular bulbs to CFLs, recycling garbage and buying produce from local farmers. It’s the least we can do while we’re here to sustain a future for generations to come.

Lowering your final footprint? It’s all about the options available to the environmentally conscious – a way to stay green even after you die, a way to help push up the daisies, so to speak – a way to return as dust to the earth with minimal harm to the Earth.

It’s called a green burial – highly popular in England and beginning to gain attention in the United States. Green burial is a natural alternative to what has become a traditional burial – embalming, casket and marble gravestone. And it’s cheaper.

 

Back then and now

Once upon a time before the Civil War and funeral directors, it fell to family members and close neighbors to prepare and dispose of the remains of a deceased loved one. The body was lovingly washed, dressed and set in the parlor for visitation. Burials followed.

The Civil War, with soldiers dying far from home and the large number of deaths, changed that. Embalming with arsenic to preserve bodies for the train ride home became a trend. Then came formaldehyde, metal caskets, concrete for burial vaults and steel to reinforce the concrete.

“The current burial process, besides being expensive, wastes great quantities of natural resources. It separates us biologically and psychologically from our host planet,” according to Jane Hillhouse’s message at www.finalfootprint.com. “And, perhaps more importantly, it strives to keep us separate from our loved ones at an important time in both lives.”

Hillhouse owns the Half Moon-based Web company that offers biodegradable-receptitacle options for burials.

Cemeteries use vast amounts of fertilizers and water for expansive lawns. From casket to vault to

mausoleum, cemeteries degrade the natural landscape.

Today’s cemeteries and gravesites are here forever although no one will remember those who are buried there 50 years from now. That rankles Deborah Meckler, president of the Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA) of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

“That land is useless,” Meckler said of modern cemeteries. “It’s destroyed as a natural ecosystem – as open space.”

But with cemeteries and plots filling fast and burial costs on the rise, another option for remains’ disposal has become popular. High heat

“The trend definitely is toward cremation, which I think is sad,” Meckler said. “Cremation has two downsides – the energy used in drying a body and the particulate matter emitted.”

You don’t want to be downwind of a crematorium, Meckler said.

With dioxins, nitrous oxide and concentrations of mercury from amalgam fillings in teeth, as well as smoke particulates, cremation is far from being Earth-friendly.

 

Go green gone

With a strong national lobby in the National Funeral Directors Association, Meckler said the FCA was established to educate the public about options for the disposition of remains.

“The funeral industry was packaging service options – people were being charged a lot,” she said.

The FCA successfully lobbied the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit the practice. Consumers are presented with individual options when burying loved ones.

With a bachelor’s degree in natural resource management and conservancy, Meckler’s mission goes beyond protecting consumers to protecting the Earth and educating the public about green burials.

“People seem very interested in this, but most people don’t know about it,” she said.

As open space is procured for green-burial sites – Forever Fernwood in San Mateo County is one such example – Meckler hopes laws can be changed to enable burial sites to be reused after 50 years, long after a body has decomposed. And grazing pastures are a waste of space, too.

“There’s no reason not to use agricultural lands (for green burials),” she said.

 

Green rules

The rules for going green underground are simple – and cheaper on the pocketbook, Meckler said.

• Bodies cannot be embalmed. Contrary to popular belief, embalming is not usually required by law.

“It doesn’t stop the smell, it doesn’t stop the decay. It just makes you look better,” she said.

• Burial containers must be biodegradable. Untreated pine boxes, shrouds – Final Footprint offers wicker coffins – the container must return to earth like the body.

• Levels or horizons of the plot must be removed and returned, level by level. Meckler said it’s important not to mix the different layers of soil in order to protect the living organisms.

• Natural grave markers only are allowed, including a log piece or stones with written or chiseled names. Some green cemeteries issue GPS data on the location.

“But it should just look like open space,” Meckler said of a green-burial site.

And it’s important to understand the difference between a burial and a funeral – just because a burial is simple doesn’t mean the farewell needs to be, she added.

“You can have lavish flowers and music. A green burial doesn’t negate the excesses of a funeral,” she said.

 

Lessons learned

For Meckler, it’s important to prepare a dead loved one for burial rather than handing the body over to strangers. The FCA’s Web site offers advice and guidelines in returning to the traditions of bygone days.

Surprisingly, people aren’t appalled at the idea.

“They’ve cared for loved ones in hospice – for many, they want to do it. It’s no big deal,” she said. “Touching is very important to get that sense of ‘goneness.’”

Others don’t want to discuss death.

“One of our taglines is, ‘Would it kill you to talk about?’” Meckler said.

But while older adults often do want to talk about their deaths and their disposition wishes, children don’t always want to hear about them.

“It’s good to put it in writing,” she said.

And as leaching arsenic from Civil War soldiers’ embalmed bodies becomes a problem in groundwater in the East, Meckler hopes green burials become the trend.

For more information, visit www.fcapeninsula.org or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Contact Mary Beth Hislop at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Submit a Letter to the Editor

The Town Crier welcomes letters to the editor on current events pertinent to Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View. Write to us at 138 Main St., Los Altos 94022, Attn: Editor, or email editor Bruce Barton at bruceb@latc.com. Because editorial space is limited, please confine letters to no more than 200 words. Include a phone number for verification purposes. Anonymous letters will not be printed.

You can also have your say right here at losaltosonline.com – scroll to the bottom of any story to add a comment. 

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