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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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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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