Sat02132016

News

SPLAT targets data, outreach as airplane noise continues

SPLAT targets data, outreach as airplane noise continues


Graphic courtesy of Don Gardner
Activists claim that a new SFO flight path leaves a “sound shadow” that impacts Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

Sky Posse Los Altos Team – more simply known as SPLAT – seeks to squelch the noise...

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Schools

Los Altos High student-run charity plans '5 Gallon Gala'

Los Altos High student-run charity plans '5 Gallon Gala'


Courtesy of Lia Evard
Water by Youth members gave Egan students a chance to carry a 40-pound Jerry can, to see how difficult it is to obtain water in developing nations.

Water by Youth, a club at Los Altos High School, is making a splash by pla...

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Community

What would you do with a box of cookies? Local Girls Scouts help Tanzanian orphanage

What would you do with a box of cookies? Local Girls Scouts help Tanzanian orphanage


Courtesy of Alicia Madden
Sales of local Girl Scout cookies support service projects, such as funding an orphanage in the village of Mto wa Mbu in Tanzania.

Girl Scout cookies – whether you think of them as a treat, a tradition or a diet comp...

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Sports

Scoreless spells sink LA boys

Scoreless spells sink LA boys


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos High point guard Nolan Brennan attempts a shot in Friday’s game versus Palo Alto. He scored eight points in the loss.

There have been several games this season in which the Los Altos High boys basketball t...

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Comment

New 'York' values

New 'York' values


Hughes

 

As we have witnessed California suffer through one of its worst droughts in history over the past few years, all of us, I’m sure, have been keenly aware of our surroundings and have done a small part in trying to conserve wa...

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Special Sections

Getting a charge  out of the Volt

Getting a charge out of the Volt


Courtesy of Chevrolet
The 2016 Chevrolet Volt can be driven up to 50 miles on the power stored in its batteries.

Just five years ago, we wondered in this column what the power supply would be for the car of the future. Gasoline, diesel, electric ba...

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Business

Nearing V-Day: Shops stock sweets, treats

Nearing V-Day: Shops stock sweets, treats


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos resident Ella Roosakos, 11, with her mother, Gail, puzzles over which Gourmet Works sweets to buy as a valentine for Ella’s friend.

The gift-buying rush isn’t exclusive to Christmas. It may jump over...

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People

ALAN RODNEY MILLS

ALAN RODNEY MILLS

Alan Rodney Mills, PhD, 83, of Los Altos passed away peacefully on Saturday, January 30th, 2016. He was born in Rochdale, England in 1933 and came to California in 1962. He was a proud alumni of Manchester Grammar in England, University of Liverpoo...

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Stepping Out

PYT 'Gets Famous'

PYT 'Gets Famous'


Lyn Flaim Healy/Spotlight Moments Photography
Renee Vetter of Palo Alto, left, and Megan Foreman of Los Altos star in Peninsula Youth Theatre’s “Judy Moody Gets Famous.” Performances are scheduled Friday and Saturday.

Peninsula...

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Spiritual Life

A time to prepare: Fasting for Lent isn't limited to food

 

Today is Ash Wednesday, which in the Christian calendar marks the beginning of Lent – the 40 days of preparation for Resurrection Sunday, otherwise known as Easter.

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Inside Mountain View

New right-to-lease ordinance promises relief for renters

New right-to-lease ordinance promises relief for renters


Mountain View Tenants Coalition/Facebook
Residents gather in the fall to protest Mountain View’s rising rents. Rent relief is on the way in the form of a new ordinance.

A controversial Mountain View law requiring landlords to provide lease opt...

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Report urges changes in county fire department

The vast majority of calls the Santa Clara County Fire Department receives are for medical emergencies, but firefighters “over-deploy” costly resources and respond with equipment and personnel better suited for battling a blaze, according to a county civil grand jury report released last week.

Los Altos, with fire stations on Almond and Fremont avenues, has contracted with the Santa Clara County Fire Department since 1996.

The 12-member civil grand jury, a watchdog group, claims that ambulance personnel, who respond after fire engines if necessary, could more effectively and inexpensively handle the “overwhelming” number of medical calls currently served by $500,000 engines. Now, one EMT-trained firefighter rides with three to four other non-EMTs on a call.

“Taxpayers can no longer afford to fund the status quo,” the report asserted. “Given that approximately 70 percent of calls to the department are reporting medical emergencies rather than fire … there appears to be a mismatch between services needed and services provided.”

The civil grand jury report suggests that firefighters began obtaining paramedic certification in the 1970s to remain relevant when building codes started to require flame-retardant materials. According to the report, approximately 4 percent of the department’s calls are for actual fires.

County fire chief Ken Kehmna, appointed to the top spot in May, has 90 days to formally respond to the report’s findings. He said in an interview last week that he looks forward to exploring opportunities to increase efficiency.

“This gives us an opportunity to open dialogue and talk about various things, which is good,” he said, declining to say whether or not he agreed with the grand jury’s findings. “We’re always looking for opportunities to improve our operational model.”

Los Altos spends approximately $5 million of its $28 million annual budget on its contract with the county fire department, according to Los Altos Assistant City Manager J. Logan.

“Having worked very closely with county fire … they provide a gold-plate service to the community,” she said. “But it’s very costly – it’s a very rigid business model and does not give us the ability to control costs. … That’s what we’re concerned about.”

The civil grand jury report agrees that maintaining response times amid any protocol changes is crucial, but it insisted that the current situation could force cities’ departments to close altogether. Spreading resources more broadly, it says, would prevent shuttering doors.

But standing in the way of change, the report noted, is the politically powerful firefighters’ union, which the grand jury said focuses on “sustaining old models, entrenched expectations and ongoing entitlements at the expense of better-performing, more efficient fire departments.”

Kehmna, who isn’t part of the union, said he preferred to issue a response in writing, saying only that the agency has an “outstanding relationship with its union.”

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