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News

LA council votes to delay community center update

LA council votes to delay community center update


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council voted to delay adoption of a community center conceptual design plan last week. The plan includes elements from a design charette held earlier this fall, left.

The Los Altos City Council last...

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Schools

Scientists bring experiments into MV classrooms

Scientists bring experiments into MV classrooms


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
During a Science is Learning geology lesson, Theuerkauf Elementary School students learn about igneous rocks by observing how sugar changes form when heated.

Hundreds of local elementary students perform experiments w...

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Community

Local actors star in PYT's 'Oklahoma!'

Local actors star in PYT's 'Oklahoma!'


Courtesy of Peninsula Youth Theatre
PYT’s “Oklahoma!” features, from left, David Peters of Mountain View, Jenna Levere of Los Altos and Kai Wessel of Mountain View.

Time is running out to catch Peninsula Youth Theatre’s production of “Oklahoma!”...

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Sports

Eagles advance

Eagles advance


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High’s Carmen Annevelink, left, and Kristen Liu put up a block against Mountain View. Annevelink totaled 20 kills.

Mountain View High’s out-of-the-gate energy could last for only so long against rival and he...

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Comment

Coping with addictions: Haugh About That?

Preparing to deal with my lifelong addiction, I stood in front of the mirror ready to confess the shame I’d been hiding. The first step to healing, I reminded myself, is to admit something is wrong.

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Special Sections

NASA, Google agreement preserves Hangar One

NASA, Google agreement preserves Hangar One


Bruce Barton/Town Crier
Hangar One, pictured here last January, will be restored under an agreement between Google and NASA.

NASA and Google Inc. forged an agreement last week that allows Google to lease a portion of NASA’s historic Moffett Fede...

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Business

State Street science center closing Nov. 30

State Street science center closing Nov. 30


Ellie Van Houtte/
Helix at 316 State St. is closing after the completion of a one-year grant from Passerelle Investment Co. The science center became a popular destination because of its various exhibits. Town Crier

A popular downtown destination...

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Books

Children's author signs books at Linden Tree

Children's author signs books at Linden Tree


Author Tiffany Papageorge is scheduled to sign copies of new her book 11 a.m. Dec. 6 at Linden Tree Books, 265 State St., Los Altos.

Papageorge’s “My Yellow Balloon” (Minoan Moon, 2014) is a Mom’s Choice “Gold” winner. In the book, the Los Gat...

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People

JAMES WINDELL SMITH

JAMES WINDELL SMITH

January 11, 1939 – November 6, 2014
Resident of Mountain View

James Windell Smith, a 40 year resident of Los Altos, passed away from complications after a post-surgery stroke November 6th, 2014 in Los Gatos, California.

Born on January 11, 1939 on...

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Travel

Olive Sonoma: There's more to the quaint town than wine

Olive Sonoma: There's more to the quaint town than wine


Eren Göknar/ Special to the Town Crier
While many day-trippers may think that Sonoma is all about the grapes, the region boasts other delights. Try a biplane ride over the patchwork landscape.

Sonoma, a scenic two-hour drive from Los Altos, boa...

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Stepping Out

LA Stage Company opens 'Fairway'

The Los Altos Stage Company production of Ken Ludwig’s new comedy “The Fox on the Fairway” is slated to run Thursday through Dec. 14 at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

A tribute to the English farces of the 1930s and 1940s, “Fox” is a romp that p...

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Spiritual Life

Author of Jewish historical novel slated at Congregation Beth Am

Author of Jewish historical novel slated at Congregation Beth Am


The Beth Am Women have scheduled “A Conversation with Author Maggie Anton” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 at Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills.

Anton, winner of the 2012 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, will discu...

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Magazine

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years


Courtesy of Christopher Stark
Homes on the St. Francis High School Women’s Club’s Christmas at Our House Holiday Home Tour showcase a variety of architectural styles.

The days grow short on sunshine but long on nostalgia as the holidays approach...

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Los Altos chicken enthusiasts cluck about inaugural Tour de Coop


Photo By: ELLIE VAN HOUTE/TOWN CRIER
Photo Ellie Van Houte/Town Crier

Los Altos Hills resident Scott Vanderlip prepares his chicken coop for the inaugural Tour de Coop Oct. 27.

Los Altos’ feathered population is burgeoning, and local owners have devised creative ways to house their cherished chickens.

Between 10 and 20 families plan to showcase their chicken coops 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 27 in the inaugural Silicon Valley Tour de Coop, a cycling tour. Short 2- to 5-mile routes and longer routes of 20 miles will allow cyclists of all skill levels to join backyard chicken owners, or “coopsters,” to examine hen houses, honeybee hives and urban gardens in Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Palo Alto.

“Raising chickens is a great way for neighbors to share and connect with a common activity that not only creates fabulous eggs, but also builds community,” said Los Altos Hills resident Scott Vanderlip.

According to Vanderlip, the city of Davis’ successful Tour de Cluck inspired him to organize the Tour de Coop.

In addition to promoting the benefits of chicken ownership, Vanderlip said he hopes the tour will connect coopsters and make them feel they are part of a movement bigger than their own backyards.

Vanderlip estimated that residents of every five to 10 homes in Los Altos Hills own flocks of chickens. The town’s 1-acre zoning allows property owners to maintain chickens, goats, cows, horses and other large animals. The city of Los Altos permits homeowners to raise one hen for every 1,000 square feet of space.

People are attracted to backyard chickens, Vanderlip noted, because they’re inexpensive – $3 or $4 per chick.

“It’s a nice, closed system in our own little yard,” said Vanderlip, touting the advantages of owning chickens. “You can’t get any more local than going out to your backyard to get an egg. … You could live on two eggs a day.”

In addition to environmental benefits, some chicken owners find joy in the relationships they build with their feathered friends.

“When we’re in the garden, they wander around our feet. … They’re right there waiting to get a bug or worm,” Vanderlip said.

He added that his oldest hen, Doodle, has the ability to perceive danger – she has survived two attacks by wild animals and outlived all of her mates in older flocks. Vanderlip said his chickens embody human characteristics.

“They look you in the eye,” he said. “There’s some intelligence there.

Urban homesteading

Los Altos resident Ron Hess pulls three light-brown eggs from nests of hay in a pint-sized coop he constructed for his brood of seven Barred Rock hens.

The coop, painted to match the Hess home, is equipped with a ladder, trap doors, operable windows, rain gutters on a shingled roof and a compact fluorescent light to comfort the chickens at night. Hess and his wife, Terese Tricamo, treat their hens like they would their own children.

Hess and Tricamo acquired their flock in April, inspired in part by Hess’ family roots in Mennonite farming. The couple compare their efforts to urban homesteading – a sustainable-living concept that incorporates farming techniques to increase self-sufficiency.

“If you do the work, it’s a great payoff,” said Hess, who added that he enjoys producing quality food and feeling connected to the ecosystem.

Their chickens provide eggs and garden fertilizer, and the family also maintains a beehive for pollinating the flowers, fruit trees and vegetables in their garden, improvised compost piles and a grain grinder for processing their harvest in the future.

Raising chickens poses challenges – unexpected predators strike the greatest fear in the hens and owners, according to Hess – but for the most part, the payoff outweighs the inconveniences.

“It’s 4 p.m. and I haven’t gone shopping,” Tricamo said. “I can grab some eggs, pick onions and tomatoes from the backyard and make quiche.”

Hess and Tricamo said they look forward to sharing their flock with Tour De Coop participants. They plan to entice visitors with zucchini and pumpkin bread made from this year’s harvest and their hens’ eggs.

For more information, visit tourdecoop.org.

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