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News

E. coli found in Los Altos water indicated breach, but only low risk

E. coli found in Los Altos water indicated breach, but only low risk


Courtesy of Microbe World
Colorized low-temperature electron micrograph of a cluster of E. coli bacteria

When E. coli and other bacteria were discovered in some Los Altos water last week, officials from the local water supplier, California Water...

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Schools

BCS hosts Stretch to Kindergarten program for underserved youth

BCS hosts Stretch to Kindergarten program for underserved youth


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The six-week, tuition-free Stretch to Kindergarten program, hosted at Bullis Charter School, serves children who have not attended preschool. A teacher leads children in singing about the parts of a butterfly, above.

Local un...

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Community

Google car painting project calls on artists

Google car painting project calls on artists


Google self-driving car

Already known as an innovator in the tech field, Google Inc. is now moving in on the art world.

The Mountain View-based company July 11 launched the “Paint the Town” contest, a “moving art experiment” that invites Califo...

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Sports

Pedaling with a purpose

Pedaling with a purpose


courtesy of
Rishi Bommannan Rishi Bommannan cycled from Bates College in Maine to his home in Los Altos Hills, taking several selfies along the way. He also raised nearly $13,000 for the Livestrong Foundation, which supports cancer patients.

When R...

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Comment

The truth about coyotes: Other Voices

The Town Crier’s recent article on coyotes venturing down from the foothills in search of sustenance referenced the organization Project Coyote (“Recent coyote attacks keep residents on edge,” July 1). Do not waste your time contac...

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Special Sections

Grant Park senior program made permanent

Grant Park senior program made permanent


Photos by Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Local residents participate in an exercise class at the Grant Park Senior Center, above. Betsy Reeves, below left with Gail Enenstein, lobbied for senior programming in south Los Altos.

It all began when Betsy Reev...

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Business

New State Street rug retailer has downtown Los Altos covered

New State Street rug retailer has downtown Los Altos covered


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Los Altos Rug Gallery owner Fahim Karimi stocks his State Street store with a wall-to-wall array of floor coverings.

A new downtown business owner plans to roll out the red carpet – along with rugs of every other color –...

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Books

Book Signings

• Fritz and Nomi Trapnell have scheduled a book-signing party 4-6 p.m. Aug. 1 at their home, 648 University Ave., Los Altos.

Fritz and his daughter, Dana Tibbitts, co-authored “Harnessing the Sky: Frederick ‘Trap’ Trapnell, ...

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People

GRACE WILSON FRANKS

GRACE WILSON FRANKS

Resident of Los Altos

Grace Wilson Franks, our beloved mother and grandmother, left us peacefully on July 16, 2015 just a few weeks short of her 92nd birthday. She was born to Ross and Florence (Cruzan) Wilson in rural Tulare, California on Septem...

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Travel

Gearing up: Make travel more civilized with accessories

Gearing up: Make travel more civilized with accessories


Eren Göknar/Special to the Town Crier
San Francisco-based humangear Inc. sells totes, tubes and tubs for traveling.

In travel, as in romance, it’s the little things that count.

Beyond the glossy brochures lie the travel discomforts too mun...

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Stepping Out

Going out with a 'Bang'

Going out with a 'Bang'


Richard Mayer/Special to the Town Crier
“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” stars, clockwise from top left, Alexander Sanchez, Sophia Sturiale, Deborah Rosengaus and Danny Martin.

Los Altos Stage Company and Los Altos Youth Theatre’s joint production of t...

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Spiritual Life

Build a 'light' house and get out of that dark place

Most of us have a place inside our hearts and minds that occasionally causes us trouble. For some, it is sadness, depression or despair. For others, it may be fear, anger, resentment or myriad other emotional “dark places” that at times seem to hij...

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Magazine

Inside Mountain View

Residents gather at NASA Ames for Pluto Flyby event

Residents gather at NASA Ames for Pluto Flyby event


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
NASA Ames’ Pluto Flyover event kindles the imaginations of young attendees.

Sue Moore watched the July 20, 1969, moon landing beside patients and staff members of the San Francisco hospital where she worked as a nurse...

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Experts: No need to be rattled by snakes in region


Photo By: Bill Bouton/Special to the Town Crier
Photo Bill Bouton/Special To The Town Crier

The local area is home to rattlesnakes, but experts claim that the reptiles are shy.

It’s not uncommon to spot a slithering snake on a stroll through Los Altos Hills or nearby Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve, but the odds of getting bitten by one are long.

According to the Santa Clara County Emergency Medical Services System, 15 snakebites were reported in 2012 within the county, none resulting in serious injury or death. But for hikers who happen to stumble upon a Northern Pacific Rattlesnake – the only venomous species found in the area – it’s best to act politely.

“Rattlesnakes are naturally very shy,” said David Allen, an ecologist and wildlife management expert who operates a professional snake removal service, Got Snakes? “They want to avoid an encounter with a human as much as you want to avoid an encounter with them.”

Poisonous or not?

Those who step in the path of a rattlesnake should stop, remain motionless and assess the situation, according to Allen.

“Give the snake space,” he said. “Nine times out of 10, the snake’s going to move off on its own.”

Hikers who abruptly move, poke or throw something at a snake increase their chances of a bite, because “the snake views you as a threat and will stand its ground,” Allen noted.

Determining whether the snake encountered is a rattlesnake or an impostor can be challenging. When threatened, species like the gopher snake – also common in the county – can mimic the diamond-shaped head of a real rattler as well as its brown and green hexagonal pattern. Allen said nearly 50 percent of the snake-removal calls he responds to are for creatures misidentified as poisonous.

Rattlesnakes, which range from approximately 8 inches to 5 feet long, are noticeably heavier than gopher snakes and have a detectable rattle at the end of their body.

A bite from such a snake can be fatal if not treated by an antivenin, an antitoxin to a venom. The American Association of Poison Control Centers reports that of the 800 rattlesnake bites reported annually, one to two cases result in death.

To avoid the harsher effects of a snakebite, rush the victim to a medical treatment facility, keep the area of the bite as still as possible and remove jewelry or objects that may contribute to swelling.

Contradicting the common instinct of some, do not apply a tourniquet, place ice on the bite, attempt to cut the wound to extract venom or allow the victim to drink alcohol.

Removing the rattler

Allen said he receives scores of snake calls in the spring and summer months. That’s when snakes emerge from hibernation and are on the prowl for food, particularly rodents and insects.

Rattlesnakes often navigate near homes, garages and backyard gardens because they provide accessible entry points, food and shelter, according to José Colomé, a community resources specialist for the Santa Clara County Vector Control District.

Two to three Los Altos-area residents per week call Allen to inquire about unwelcome snakes on their property. Removing a snake can take as little as 20 minutes, but the larger task is identifying a legal space for relocation that poses no public safety concerns or disruption to the biology of the habitat. To mitigate the problem, Allen has built a network of private landowners who welcome snakes on their property. He said some property owners consider rattlesnakes integral to controlling the population of ground squirrels, known to damage property.

For homeowners seeking a long-term solution for repelling rodents – and the snakes they attract – Allen conducts property inspections and designs physical barriers. Services generally range from $75 for a quick removal to several hundred dollars for inspections.

The vector control district does not provide emergency services, but technicians offer pest management advice.

To contact the vector control district, call (408) 918-4770 or visit sccgov.org/sites/vector.

To contact Allen, call (925) 997-3730 or visit gotsnakes.org.

Snake bite prevention

• Wear heavy boots and long pants when hiking or walking outdoors.

• Protect your feet, legs and arms – the most common locations of snakebites.

• Watch your step, especially when moving through tall brush or near rocks and other objects that provide shade cover.

• Never try to touch a snake or move closer to it for examination.

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