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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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City responds to frustrated First Street merchants


Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Photo Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier Merchants along First Street in downtown Los Altos express frustration with ongoing construction in front of their businesses.

Sometime in the near future, the First Street streetscape project in downtown Los Altos will be completed and existing businesses should benefit from the improvements. But conducting business during the construction phase is a hardship and a source of endless frustration for some merchants.

Ongoing work on the project has longstanding businesses like California Automotive and Silicon Valley Mediation Group struggling to get by, with the restricted or no-access conditions shooing away potential customers. The project, which includes rebuilding the sidewalks, has left trenches in front of the businesses.

“California Automotive is directly next door, and although they are suffering terribly from the disruption and customer inability to get their cars in, at least they have been given a metal ramp for access,” wrote Carol Millie of Silicon Valley Mediation Group in a June 12 letter to Los Altos City Manager Marcia Somers. “It is our building alone that has been completely inaccessible from the street for nearly one month, in spite of the fact that we mediate ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) cases. … I also have tenants who offer professional services (law and financial consulting) who are finding the conditions deplorable.”

Millie’s letter last week received an immediate response from Somers, who directed Public Works Director Jim Gustafson to visit Millie’s offices at 141 First St. to assess the problem. By Friday, the driveways in front of both businesses had been paved.

“We are very sorry for the inconvenience,” Somers said. “Construction is disruptive. We understand it can be frustrating. … There was no intent to help some and not others.”

“They were very responsive,” Millie said Monday.

The work addressed concerns the businesses had about how the city was prioritizing the project.

“The sidewalk project was started so as to give first completion to open space between the driveways on the plaza where no one is disturbed,” Millie said. “We have asked ourselves, is this a considerate way to prioritize?”

“I’m the only one on First Street who requires automobile access in order to operate,” said Al Pickett, owner of California Automotive at 139 First St. for 20 years.

Dependent on drive-by traffic, Pickett said construction has been “absolutely murder – it’s killing me.” He estimated that business has been down 30 to 40 percent since work began.

Further, Pickett said the city promised multiple signs pointing to businesses that remain open during construction. He was also told work in front of his shop would stop at 10 a.m. but said that has not been the case.

“Although access to his driveway has generally been open at 10 a.m., it seems that occasionally it’s been delayed,” Somers said. “The contractor (Redgwick Construction of Newark) is trying very hard to accommodate everyone’s individual concerns and constraints and still stay on target with the schedule.”

As for signs, Somers said three are currently posted that say “Welcome – Pardon our dust – Downtown open for business,” two on Foothill Expressway and a third at the intersection of First and Main streets.

“We anticipate a fourth sign to go up at Second and State when the street/block closure occurs (at State and First),” she said.

The current work is part of Phase 1B of the city’s streetscape project, which extends along First from the State Street intersection to Shasta Street across from the old Safeway site. The work involves narrowing the street, replacing and expanding sidewalks and adding new streetside adornments such as streetlights, trees and landscaping. Somers said the current phase is on schedule for completion prior to the Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival July 13 and 14.

Work will then commence on the intersection of First and State streets, which city officials expect to be closed for up to six weeks and reopen by Labor Day.

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