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News

Obama visits Los Altos area

Obama visits Los Altos area

President Obama made a fundraising stop today at a private residence in Los Altos Hills, an appearance that spurred traffic disruptions, helicopters scouting overhead and protesters. In the wake of his visit, unknown persons, apparently no fans of ...

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Schools

MVLA rolls out laptop integration this fall

MVLA rolls out laptop integration this fall


Town Crier File Photo
Starting in the fall, daily use of laptops in the classroom will be standard operating procedure for students at Los Altos and Mountain View high schools as the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District launches a pil...

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Community

Generations blend behind the scenes at 'Wizard of Oz'

Generations blend behind the scenes at 'Wizard of Oz'


Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.” ELIZA RIDGEWAY/ TOWN CRIER

A massive troupe of young people and grownups gathered in Los Altos this summer to stage the latest iteration of a childhood sta...

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Sports

Football in July

Football in July


Town Crier file photo
Mountain View High’s Anthony Avery is among the nine local players slated to play in tonight’s Silicon Valley Youth Classic.

Tonight’s 40th annual Silicon Valley Youth Classic – also known as the Charlie...

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Comment

Pools should be included: Editorial

Los Altos residents should be receiving calls this week from city representatives conducting a survey to determine priorities for a revamped Hillview Community Center.

Notice that we did not say “civic center” – chastened by a lack of public support...

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Special Sections

Looking for life without lows, local diabetic tests artificial pancreas

Looking for life without lows, local diabetic tests artificial pancreas


Photo by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Dr. Trang Ly, left, reviews blood sugar readings on a smartphone with Los Altos resident Tia Geri, right, and fellow participant Noa Simon during a closed-loop artificial pancreas study for Type 1 diabetics.
...

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Business

Palo Alto law firm coming to 400 Main

Palo Alto law firm coming to 400 Main


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Longtime Palo Alto law firm Thoits, Love, Hershberger & McClean plans to open an office at 400 Main St. in Los Altos after construction is complete in November.

A longtime Palo Alto law firm plans to expand into L...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

RICHARD PATRICK BRENNAN

RICHARD PATRICK BRENNAN

Resident of Palo Alto

Richard Patrick Brennan, journalist, editor, author, adventurer, died at his Palo Alto home on July 4, 2014 at age 92. He led a full life, professionally and personally. He was born and raised in San Francisco, joined the Arm...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

PYT stages 'Shrek'

PYT stages 'Shrek'


Lyn Healy/Spotlight Moments Photography
Dana Cullinane plays Fiona in Peninsula Youth Theatre’s “Shrek The Musical.”

Peninsula Youth Theatre presents “Shrek The Musical” Saturday through Aug. 3 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts...

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Spiritual Life

Foothills Congregational: 100 years and counting

Foothills Congregational: 100 years and counting


Courtesy of Carolyn Barnes
The newly built Los Altos church in 1914 featured a bell tower and an arched front window. Both continue as elements of the building as it stands today.

Foothills Congregational Church – the oldest church building ...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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Local firefighters join Rim Fire strike teams


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Firefighters practice their wildland fire skills earlier this year at the El Monte Station in Los Altos Hills. Although there have been no major local fires in 2013, crew members dispatched to the Rim Fire and fires in Southern California over the summer.

As the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park raged out of control last month, firefighters from Los Altos Hills’ El Monte and Loyola fire stations were deployed to the field to assist.

“We had a totally different frame of mind for this fire,” said El Monte Station Battalion Chief Ron Vega, who served as a strike team leader trainee alongside other Santa Clara County Fire Department firefighters on Route 108, just west of the 385-square-mile fire. “The Stanislaus National Forest fire was moving so fast and was so large that we needed Type 1 (the best-equipped) fire engines.”

Vega is a member of one of several predesignated teams in Santa Clara County ready to respond to large emergencies “wherever and whenever.” There have not been any major local fires this year, Vega said, but a team from the county was mobilized to a wildland fire in Southern California in May, which prepared them for their role in fighting the Rim Fire, California’s third largest fire on record.

When his strike team, a collection of five engines under one leader, was called into action in the communities of Pinecrest and Tuolumne, they mobilized as they would for a fire in Los Altos or Los Altos Hills.

Although his team is trained and equipped with the tools to battle on the fire line, they were assigned the role of securing the safety of communities in the path of the expanding fire.

“When we arrived, (the fire) was two ridges over from the community,” Vega said of the threat the hovering fires posed to Tuolumne and other communities. “We had a boss to report to with basic objectives, and my job as strike team leader trainee was to put the plan in place.”

Instilling peace of mind

Working 24-hour cycles – one day on, one day off – his team quickly acclimated to local conditions, including the geography, topography, water systems and area roads, to assess the risk and determine the best procedures to protect structures and preempt fire growth. Prepared to defend the community should the fire reach them, Vega said his team also served as “peacekeepers” and “information keepers” in the communities.

“A lot of that was keeping the public informed, being out there and being seen,” he said.

While enforcing evacuation orders, his team often engaged concerned property owners and attempted to instill peace of mind during the stressful situation.

After one week, the fire risk diminished and Vega’s strike team was removed from the field. Vega is back on duty at the El Monte Station, but four team members from local stations with specialized skills in communications, map making, documentation and resource management are still assigned to the Rim Fire containment efforts.

As of Monday, the cost of fighting the Rim Fire, which burned more than 250,000 acres and injured six, was $84.8 million.

Vega said the experience would better prepare local teams to handle future fires closer to home.

“It’s an opportunity for some on the team to get experience where they might not have been on this type of assignment before,” he said. “It’s different when you have to mobilize in an unknown community, move on the fly and put together a plan to keep a community safe.”

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