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News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Updated 11:28 a.m.:

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill R...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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Lehigh quarry plan OK concerns open-space group


Photo By: COURTESY OF QUARRYNO.COM
Photo Courtesy Of Quarryno.com

Lehigh Southwest Cement’s mining operations are ongoing in the Cupertino foothills south of Los Altos.

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors’ June 26 go-ahead for Lehigh Southwest Cement’s plan to expand the limestone quarry did not dissuade environmental groups from voicing concerns about air, water and noise impacts.

Supervisors rejected the groups’ appeals, finding that Lehigh had adequately addressed environmental issues. Quarry plans have raised the ire of several other groups, including the Sierra Club, Quarry No and Bay Area for a Clean Environment. Quarry No, led by Los Altos Hills resident Bill Almon, and the Sierra Club filed related lawsuits now pending in state and federal courts.

Among those concerned are officials with the Los Altos-based Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD), who worry that quarry expansion will hurt the Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve located just south of Los Altos.

The approved amendment to the quarry’s 1985 reclamation plan impacts a 1,238.6-acre area, including “extraction areas, processing areas, roads, support features and other facilities,” according to a Lehigh report. The entire quarry comprises 3,500 acres.

One of the contentious matters is ongoing water pollution as a result of selenium. The chemical element is essential for health in trace amounts but can be toxic in excessive concentrations. Detractors claim that selenium pollutes the creek when pooled groundwater from the bottom of the quarry is pumped into the creek.

“We are concerned about the potential impacts on our visitors and our staff who are stationed at Rancho San Antonio,” said Steve Abbors, MROSD general manager. “The district is also concerned about the significant ecological impacts of elevated selenium, including its adverse effect on aquatic organisms and the food chain.”

MROSD also criticized the effect of the dust generated by the quarry and the visual degradation caused by the East Materials Storage Area, which is visible from Rancho San Antonio and the surrounding communities of Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Cupertino and Sunnyvale. The reclamation plan includes dumping waste material excavated from the main quarry pit there. This waste pile has expanded and become more visible over the years and could grow to approximately four times its current size of 1 million cubic yards.

The Lehigh plant produces more than half the cement used in the Bay Area and 70 percent of the cement used in Santa Clara County. The quarry provides aggregate for the cement plant but is not the only source. Together, the quarry and the cement plant employ approximately 100 people.

“We recognize the economic importance of any business in these difficult times, and this is not an attempt to curtail the quarry or its related cement plant operations,” Abbors said. “Lehigh should be held accountable for the effects of its business decisions. … There is still time for Lehigh to decide to do the right thing and clean up the creek, control the dust and stop piling waste rock that increasingly occludes the view of the beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains.”

The supervisors’ ruling comes on the heels of a June 25 announcement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that proposes that Lehigh and other cement plants receive an additional two years to comply with its 2010 air standards, which called for major emission reductions. Cement companies would have until September 2015 to comply.

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