Sat09202014

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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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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