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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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Smart start


Photo By: Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
Photo Gary Anderson/Special To The Town Crier

Mercedes-Benz shows off one of its new Smart electric-drive cars during a recent tour stop in San Francisco.

Imagine a bright Saturday morning in April on the Embarcadero along the San Francisco waterfront, under the clock tower of the Ferry Building. Fresh produce spills from the stalls at the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market, classic trolleys pass on their steel tracks and Giants fans whisk by on their way to AT&T Park.

Now visualize a fleet of shiny subcompact Smart electric-drive cars by Mercedes-Benz – led by one Smart brilliantly painted with the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline – soundlessly cruising up and down the Embarcadero in front of the very view painted on the car.

This scene was as exciting as watching the circus unload as a youngster. The event resembled a circus – of the most modern kind.

Mercedes is introducing its Smart electric vehicles to “eco-minded urbanites and early adopters” in an 11-city tour across the country. With a base price of only $25,000, the Smart will be the most affordable electric vehicle on the market, competing with the Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi MiEV and Ford Focus EV. It uses much of the same technology as the Tesla.

The tour’s goal is to showcase the new car, now available at Smart dealers, by giving the younger city-dwellers a chance to drive it in the setting for which it was designed. It also allows them to inspect the zero-emission car’s particular attributes, from unlimited customization opportunities to its structure, built around a rigid tridion safety-cell exoskeleton.

The most noticeable attribute of these cars in this setting is their size – just under 9 feet long, 5 feet high and 5 feet wide – dimensions that work well in dense downtown traffic, tight city parking and even tighter spaces in urban garages.

What was equally obvious during the test-drive up and down San Francisco’s steep hills was the torquey responsiveness of the electric motor, perfect for a dash across crowded intersections and able to make easy work of the hills that are typical of the city. The zero-to-60 time of 12 seconds and top speed of 78 mph provide a more than adequate performance envelope for use in city applications, even if part of the commute includes freeway miles.

With the advanced Mercedes-developed lithium-ion battery stowed in the area where the fuel tank usually goes, and the motor replacing the engine between the rear wheels, the car retains its standard interior space and cargo room. And it’s easily capable of handling routine city errands.

As for answers to frequently asked questions: The Smart EV can travel between 50 and 80 miles on a single charge and recharge from 20 to 80 percent full in 3.5 hours on a 240-volt outlet.

And yes, cities are increasingly making these outlets available in downtown parking structures. A smartphone app manages power and recharging – there’s no reason for range anxiety in typical city use, even if that use includes a trip to the airport or errands around town on weekends. The best part is that the Smart EV gets the equivalent of 122 miles per gallon, more than most motor scooters.

Increasing the Smart EV’s convenience and efficiency is that it can be programmed while plugged into the power grid to heat or cool the interior to a comfortable level just before use.

The bottom line from our brief time running around San Francisco on a busy Saturday morning: This may be the most practical transportation for use around a suburban village like Los Altos.

The Smart in either body style may be purchased like any other new or leased car from Mercedes.The Smart Fortwo electric-drive coupe lease price is $199/month, $269/month for the convertible, and includes “Battery Assurance Plus.” This program allows customers to rent the battery on their Smart car, including maintenance and replacement for up to 10 years, and is also available as part of a purchase package.

Although the Smart has been at dealers for only a few weeks, we’ve already seen two in downtown Los Altos. But that’s not surprising, given the early-adopter mentality of the village and the attraction of the price, efficiency, comfort, flexibility and style.

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