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News

West Nile fogging commences today

West Nile fogging commences today


Courtesy of the Santa Clara County Vector Control District
Fogging commences Wednesday within the highlighted area.

The detection of West Nile Virus-infected mosquitos means that Santa Clara County officials will begin mosquito fogging operations...

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Schools

LASD trustees reopen negotiations with Los Altos Teachers Association

The Los Altos School District Board of Trustees last week directed staff to reopen negotiations with the Los Altos Teachers Association, a move intended to shore up the district’s financial picture.

According to the district’s current co...

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Community

LA teenager crowned Miss Golden State, advances to national pageant in Florida

LA teenager crowned Miss Golden State, advances to national pageant in Florida


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Alexandra McCarthy, crowned Miss Golden State Teen in July, earned “Ms. Personality” honors from her peers.

Alexandra McCarthy has a ways to go before reaching her coveted role as a U.S. Supreme Court justice. Bu...

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Sports

After rough year, Eagles aim to soar once more

After rough year, Eagles aim to soar once more


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos High senior running back Patrick Vargas snares a pass in practice last week.

Don’t dismiss the Eagles. Coach Trevor Pruitt is adamant that his Los Altos High football team will be better than expected.

&#...

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Comment

Car spotting 2015: A Piece of My Mind

When I was a kid, September was exciting, almost like Christmas, because that was when the Big Three automakers would reveal the new models for the upcoming year.

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Special Sections

Loving on the Edge

Loving on the Edge


Courtesy of Ford
The Ford Edge has been redesigned for 2015. Ford lengthened the wheel base and added cargo space, among other things. The Titanium model sells for approximately $42,000.

Once in a while, a vehicle we test-drive is just right for our...

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Business

Wine bar aims for October opening

Wine bar aims for October opening


Rendering courtesy of Honcho
Honcho, the wine and beer lounge on First Street, expects an October launch. A rendering of the space reveals the interior layout, which includes bar and lounge-style seating.

A downtown libations lounge that anticip...

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People

LOIS CAROLINE WALLES

LOIS CAROLINE WALLES

November, 1928

Lois lost a long and courageous battle with a prolonged illness on July 14th, 2015. She passed away knowing how well she was loved. She was always the life of the party and loved bringing everyone to her home for dinner or an event,...

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Travel

Carmel Valley Ranch unveils upgrades

Carmel Valley Ranch unveils upgrades


Courtesy of Carmel Valley Ranch
Carmel Valley Ranch recently upgraded its Vineyard Oak suites, which feature sweeping views, rocking chairs and private outdoor tubs for soaking under the stars.

Things are heating up at Carmel Valley Ranch, with 30 n...

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Stepping Out

'Dead Man' comes alive at Bus Barn

'Dead Man' comes alive at Bus Barn


Richard Mayer/Special to the Town Crier
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” includes, from left, Marjorie Hazeltine (as Hermia), Kristin Walter (Jean) and Adrienne Walters (Carlotta).

Los Altos Stage Company opens its ...

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Spiritual Life

Inside Mountain View

MV actress/playwright Garvin wins NY festival award for

MV actress/playwright Garvin wins NY festival award for "Corners Grove"


Courtesy of Undiscovered Countries
Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin received a New York arts festival award for a featured role in “Corners Grove,” a play she wrote.

New York recognized that one of Mountain View’s own can “make it there” when the Planet C...

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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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