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News

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates


Nine candidates have filed to run for three open seats on the Mountain View City Council in the Nov. 4 election – none of them incumbents. The Town Crier asked them to introduce themselves to readers in the following Q&A format. We knew the...

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Schools

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The Los Altos School District’s newly expanded Facilities Advisory Committee met for the first time last week. The 28-member committee’s first task is to prioritize campus improvement projects.

The Los Altos Scho...

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Community

Sports

New-look Lancers find their footing

New-look Lancers find their footing


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Jenna Adams, left, and Carly Deale attempt to bump the ball Friday night. The juniors combined for 28 kills.

This year’s St. Francis High girls volleyball team faintly resembles last season’s squad ...

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Special Sections

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
An estimated 75 supporters of higher teacher pay turned out for the Sept. 4 Mountain View Whisman School District board meeting.

Teachers, trustees and administrators are recovering from a dramatic Mountain View Whism...

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Business

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Esthetician Marjan Kashi showcases one of the treatment rooms at her new studio, Pure Serenity Skincare at Rancho Shopping Center. Kashi provides services including microdermabrasion and various light and heat energy the...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

Resident of San Jose and Los Altos, California

July 21, 1931 to August 4, 2014

Born in Arimo, Idaho, to Jerald Emmett and Rebecca Henderson Nelson Christiansen. Raised in Davis and Riverside, California, with summers in Downey, Idaho, and in Loga...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

Pear puts on a pair of plays

Pear puts on a pair of plays


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Dan Kapler (as Teddy) and Betsy Kruse Craig (Trish) star in Pear Avenue Theatre’s “House.”

The Pear Avenue Theatre production of two interlocking comedies by Alan Ayckbourn – “House&...

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Spiritual Life

Back to Church Sunday offers opportunity to recommit

The children in Los Altos are back to school, and I can still hear parents cheering. Summer is officially over, even if the calendar doesn’t quite think so.

Parents have attended Back to School nights to meet their children’s teachers. B...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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Impacts of a festival

Festival gives downtown Los Altos the ultimate exposure

There are many who believe the downtown Los Altos Arts and Wine festival is one of the top family festivals on the peninsula. The festival includes children's programs, music and entertainment that other art and wine festivals don't begin to utilize.

When there are 500 hard working volunteers promoting a friendly family atmosphere, it's easy to understand why an estimated 100,000 people will visit the booths of 385 artists in the downtown area for the two-day festival.

Sixteen years ago, Marion Jackston, known by some as the matriarch of downtown Los Altos, convinced the downtown Los Altos Village Association (LAVA) to start a festival type "garage sale." After seeing how successful the Festival of Lights Parade became in 1977, she suggested the association sponsor the downtown Los Altos Arts and Wine Festival in the South Parking Plaza.

The festival wasn't heartily received by some merchants, but Jackston addressed concerns by talking to opponents individually. As she envisioned, the Los Altos Arts and Wine Festival, which began in 1980, turned out to be the greatest fund-raiser imaginable for the association.

The festival provides the "seed money" for other events. LAVA organizers use festival proceeds to fund and promote the annual Festival of Lights Parade, a Halloween window painting contest, concerts in the Community Plaza, a downtown Easter Egg Hunt, high school scholarships and other activities.

Jane Reed, former executive director of LAVA, said the festival began as a fund-raiser for other events and has met the goal each year.

"The festival has progressed into a family get-together where you see people you haven't seen for a long time. We tried to bill this as a greeting place for families."

At the same time, the festival is also a great fund-raiser for service clubs and non-profit organizations that operate festival booths.

Sandy Grisedale, executive director of LAVA, also touts the benefits of the Arts and Wine Festival.

"It's prestige for Los Altos," she said. "Visitors see what we have to offer in downtown Los Altos and they come back time and time again to shop. Each year we have co-sponsors who want to be associated with the festival. These organizations are so supportive of the festival that they want to come back each year."

LAVA president Kent Nelson said the festival is the envy of other communities. "Because of our Arts and Wine Festival, LAVA is looked upon in the Bay Area as the premium example of a downtown merchant and professional organization," he said. "Everyone wishes they could emulate our vision, vitality and merchant dedication. The physical attributes from the lamp posts to the hanging banners are examples of benefits from the festival."

Norm Chu, owner of Baskin-Robbins on State Street, said not all merchants are happy with the festival because it takes away some of their Saturday business and it takes up all the parking places.

"I'm on the board of directors of LAVA and a lot of merchants don't understand that the festival covers all the expenses for the year," he said. "I'm for it 110 percent, because its a great opportunity to showcase downtown as well as the services other towns don't have."

Ron Shanholtz, owner of Mac's Tea Room on Main Street, has mixed feelings over the benefits of the festival.

"The biggest negative is the festival closes down Main and State Streets for two days," he said. "Most of the people come from out of town and regular customers don't shop because of a lack of parking spaces. But I do a good day's business without my regular customers. The bar does great and the restaurant does well for the two days."

"The festival generates more walk-in traffic than any other event," said William Puccetti, owner of Design and Interiors on State Street. "We are open both days and we make good sales each day. I have talked to other merchants explaining how important it is to stay open on Sunday just to get the exposure."

Dennis Ronberg, owner of Linden Tree Children's Records and Books on State Street, first organized a children's stage for the festival, an element that keeps expanding with each passing year.

"The benefits of the Arts and Wine festival have helped Los Altos become a unique city by developing the atmosphere of a family community," Ronberg said. "Having the children's stage adds another dimension that other festivals don't have. The children's program is a quality event other festivals don't try to follow. It brings in a lot of families from out of town.

"My business on the days of the festival are not that great, but the festival allows parents to discover our store and they return later to browse and purchase."

Service clubs also benefit from the festival, as the Sertoma, Rotary and Kiwanis clubs will attest.

Sandy Pakaski, president of Sertoma Club, will work in a barbecue food booth as Sertoma participates in its fifth year at the festival. Sertoma profits will support the Olde Town Band, the Community Health Awareness Council (CHAC), the Community Services Agency (CSA) and School for the Deaf.

The festival is the second biggest fund-raiser for the Kiwanis Club. Kiwanis president Elizabeth Cleary said their profits help provide projects to senior groups in Los Altos, scholarships and contributions to CSA.

Noreen Sorg of the Los Altos Police Department cited only one arrest at the festival the past two years, indicating crowds attending recent festivals have been well-behaved.

"I want to stress that we've never had a problem," Grisedale said. "We've been lucky in that we've had great crowds." She said three police officers will be patrolling festival grounds each day.

Festival clean-up, in the hands of Los Altos Garbage Company employees, also has been handled well, organizers say.

"Street trash cans will be emptied before, during and after the weekend," Nelson said. "City crews have been planting additional flowers and plants and tidying up. They will sweep and clean up Monday morning (July 10) by 6 a.m." He said 20 rest rooms and four handicapped facilities will be provided during the festival.

"By the time they're done (maintenance crews), it's like the festival didn't even happen," Grisedale said.

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