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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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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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LAH resident gives his time to the forests

Photo Courtesy Of Dave Lautzenheiser

Dave Lautzenheiser works with an all-volunteer organization that protects state wildlands.

This is the third in a series of monthly articles that highlight local volunteers.

Los Altos Hills resident Dave Lautzenheiser is a volunteer with Ventana Wilderness Alliance, an all-volunteer organization that protects the wildlands of the northern Santa Lucia Mountains and the Big Sur Coast.

Q: How did you hear about your organization and for how long have you volunteered?

A: After having a very miserable hiking trip in the Big Sur wilderness, I went online to seek information about difficult trail situations. I found reports of conditions on the Ventana Wilderness Alliance Web site written by folks who had actually been hiking there. I have worked with them for five years.

Q: What tasks do you perform?

A: Our focus is on trail restoration in the greater Big Sur wilderness area. This involves two main tasks. The first is removing the brush that has grown into the trail or has fallen on the trail from above and is generally done with heavy-duty pruning tools. Some larger items require sawing with pruning saws. In the case of fallen trees, a number of volunteers have large, two-person manual crosscut saws that we use. The second general task is restoring the trail tread, the part that you walk on, using a variety of digging and raking tools. We remove debris from the trail and dig out and level any areas that have fallen rocks, dirt or brush roots in the trail tread.

Q: What is your favorite part of volunteering?

A: The best part of this particular "job" is the huge transformation in the usability of a trail. We take areas that are virtually impassable and convert them into a "wilderness freeway" in a short period of time. Often while we are out working on the trails, hikers come through and their thanks only adds to the satisfaction.

Q: What skills are needed to do this job?

A: The leaders of the work trips provide the small amount of instruction needed to accomplish most of the tasks. For those who have the inclination to take their hand at the two-person crosscut saws, there are classes to become certified in accordance with Forest Service regulations. Every trip begins with a mandatory safety briefing. The crew leader for each trip works closely with new volunteers to be certain that they are using tools properly, are adhering to appropriate safety practices and are, most importantly, enjoying the time in the wilderness!

Q: What is the time commitment?

A: Work trips are generally two-day events on weekends and we camp out at night. There are some opportunities for one-day trips that are a great way to get started. There are also a few longer trips, generally three or four days, particularly if we are working a trail remote enough to require a long hike into the wilderness. Trips are planned for at least one weekend per month from October to June. I personally try to do four or five trips per season; others are out every month and some folks come out only once a year.

Q: What do you get out of volunteering?

A: This activity is all about making a difference for hikers to enjoy this wonderful area of the state. Our goal is to improve the trails so that a larger number of users can enjoy them and, if we can increase the use of the area, perhaps the Forest Service will get additional funding to restore other facilities that are beyond the scope of our activities.

Q: What type of people might enjoy this volunteer job?

A: Anyone who enjoys outdoors and hiking is a good candidate. Also, a desire to camp out overnight in a remote area is a definite plus but many of the two-day trips can be done without the luxury of sleeping out under the stars in one of the most beautiful wild areas in the state!

Q: How may others contact your organization to volunteer?

A: The Web site is www.ventanawild.org. Click on the "Trail Crew" button on the left side of the page for more information.

Carol Crites is a Los Altos resident and longtime volunteer. Suggestions for this column can be sent to Editor Bruce Barton by e-mailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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