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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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Local ham operators offer helping hand in emergencies

COMM LAAREShamradiooperatorsSecurity for some might mean first-aid supplies in the trunk of the car or the voice of a 911 operator on the other end of an emergency call, but to members of the all-volunteer Los Altos Amateur Radio Emergency Service (LAARES), a pocket-sized handset radio is the quintessential tool for peace of mind.

No minuscule keyboard, fancy LED screen or built-in camera needed, LAARES member Jim Clark sends a test signal to another amateur, or ham, radio operator in Mountain View without thinking or blinking twice. And, that’s exactly what makes the communications system so valuable – it’s more reliable than any cellphone or piece of technology out there.

Operating off the grid via frequency modulation, ham radio operators can communicate from city to city, and even across the country and globe, when repeater towers are used. As proven in blackouts and natural disasters, amateur radio operators keep running when other communications systems fail.

Despite the fallibility of modern communications devices, Clark and fellow ham operator Tom Smith note that it’s difficult to convert bedazzled smartphone users to ham enthusiasts.

“‘That’s old technology. … Why do I need that?’” is the common response Smith encounters when attempting to recruit prospective amateur radio operators. “They think it’s not going to be a problem, that someone else is going to take care of me.”

Although Smith estimated approximately 200 to 300 licensed ham radio operators in Los Altos, he noted that the number of operators training for emergency communications is much lower. Ham radios are commonly used for a variety of purposes, including long-distance and military communications, radiotelegraphy and even contests.

For ham radio operators who choose to train for emergency communications, the hobby is a serious commitment and form of public service.

“You have to be ready to help whenever, wherever it happens,” said Smith, who keeps a collection of radios in his vehicle for any circumstance that might arise. “It’s not a backseat hobby.”

LAARES offers four training sessions a year to help local residents prepare for the 35-question Federal Communications Commission’s amateur radio technician exam, but the group’s services run deeper. Operating under the guidance of the Los Altos Police Department, members are ready to turn their radios on for emergency communications work near and far. When help was needed in San Jose during a past incident, LAARES members joined with more than 40 amateur radio operators in the region to mobilize a network.

Local residents will find amateur radio operators exercising their skills alongside police personnel, reporting data in emergency drills and even directing traffic and maintaining spectator safety at the annual Festival of Lights Parade.

Clark is confident that existing LAARES volunteers are prepared for potential emergency scenarios, but he welcomes new recruits. With approximately 30,000 residents in Los Altos, “the more the merrier,” he said.

For more information, visit laares.info.

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