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News

"Brown is the new green," says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spending nearl...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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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

DR. ALFRED HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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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

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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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 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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