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News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill Road home April 27 and...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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Foothill student loan rate drops under U.S. Senate act


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Foothill College students can breathe a sigh of relief after the U.S. Senate voted to lower interest rates on federal student loans.

Foothill College students with federal loans can breathe a bit easier after the U.S. Senate passed legislation to lower interest rates July 24.

The action affects borrowers who have taken out or will take out a new federal student loan after July 1, according to a Senate statement. The bill goes to the House of Representatives for a vote in August.

Students with Stafford loans, usually from lower- and middle-class families, had faced a doubling of interest rates from the previous 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, effective July 1, when the U.S. House of Representatives failed to take action.

The Senate bill, the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act, garnered support from Republicans and Democrats.

“This bipartisan compromise puts in place a sustainable, market-based solution that ensures access and affordability for students seeking to improve their lives through higher education,” said Richard Burr (R-NC), who introduced the bill with senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Angus King (I-ME), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Tom Carper (D-DE), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Dick Durbin (D-IL).

“The act essentially ties interest rates to fluctuations in the market, allowing students to take advantage of historically low rates while ensuring that taxpayers will not have to foot the bill for arbitrary rates set by Congress,” Coburn said.

The new legislation lowers interest rates for undergraduate students – accounting for two-thirds of all loans – to 3.86 percent. It includes a cap, with undergrads paying up to but no more than 8.25 percent, no matter how the market performs. The loans are set to the U.S. Treasury’s 10-year borrowing rate.

Local reaction

“My initial read is that is it good for current community college students, who will likely be moving on prior to the readjustment in 2015,” said Kevin Harral, director of financial aid at Foothill College. “The big deal about it is the speed of readjusting that could happen after 2015. As a student advocate, it is hard to say it’s a good deal if it rapidly increases up to the cap within a year or two after 2015, unless the cap is appropriately set. However, these federal programs must be funded and, yes, it is partially off the interest collected from students.”

Still, Harral agreed that the act is a better solution than the previous stop-gap measures – or no action at all.

“Loans are a necessary part of paying for education for many of Foothill College’s upper-, middle- and low-income families,” he said, “and I would much rather there be a reasonable increase (or annual fluctuation) in rates, in step with our overall economy … than the loan program be eliminated or dismantled.”

Harral added that something needs to be done to stabilize the program and prevent eleventh-hour scrambling.

“Even if this deal sunsets in some future year, the topic seems to be rarely discussed until it is about to impact students and a larger solution needs to be compromised on,” he said. “I would love to see a more thorough discussion on the rates, but this deal is something – and better than what happened on July 1.”

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