Thu05052016

News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Updated 11:28 a.m.:

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 R...

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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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Neighborhood returns to normal after feral cat problem


Bruce Barton/Town Crier
Suzy Heisele, a volunteer at Palo Alto Animal Services, visits with kittens she rescued from a Los Altos neighborhood. A cat hoarder contributed to the felines’ out-of-control population growth.

Residents looking to recoup their costs for damages incurred after feral cats overtook their neighborhood may have no one to go after.

According to a Palo Alto Animal Services official, the alleged cat hoarder, whose unfixed pets unintentionally created a cat population swelling to more than a hundred, recently died.

The Town Crier reported last week on the efforts of Animal Services volunteer Suzy Heisele, who trapped and rescued two-thirds of the cats over a two-month period, from Aug. 1 to Oct. 1. However, the article erroneously reported the suspect to be alive and noted that she recently moved out of the overrun neighborhood, located just north of Los Altos High School.

Connie Urbanski, superintendent of Palo Alto Animal Services, said she is documenting the neighborhood’s months-long cat problem, a report she plans to present to Los Altos Police Chief Tuck Younis. Younis said he’ll consider what action to take after viewing the report.

Palo Alto Animal Services, responsible for animal control in Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, has been under contract with the two communities the past 18 years.

The house where the alleged hoarder lived has since been purchased and renovated by a developer for resale. The Town Crier is withholding the woman’s name out of respect for the family and at the request of neighbors.

Urbanski said a number of factors led to the overpopulation problem. Construction crews for the developer of the alleged hoarder’s house shooed the cats outside instead of immediately calling animal control. Neighbors failed to contact animal control services until the problem became obvious.

“If you see a bunch of animals you haven’t seen before, you need to call us,” Urbanski said.

Another problem is that the cats attracted additional unwanted animals to the area – coyotes have now been spotted in the neighborhood. Two weeks ago, a family reported that a coyote killed their 12-year-old cat.

Rescue operations

The neighborhood is returning to normal, thanks mainly to volunteer Heisele’s efforts. She spent approximately 80 hours setting out food and traps, and waiting in the dark for the cats to come out. Heisele rescued 67 cats and is arranging their adoptions. She also facilitated better communication among neighbors.

“We haven’t had the staff to go out and trap,” Urbanski said. “(Heisele) is incredible.”

Meanwhile, Palo Alto Animal Services continues to operate under the threat of further budget cuts.

The city of Mountain View’s decision last year to drop the agency and go with another provider cut its budget by a third. The city of Palo Alto is pushing for the agency to cut its budget by another third – $500,000 – this fiscal year.

As a result, staffing has been reduced from 13 to six, and those remaining are performing multiple jobs, from cleaning kennels to answering the phone.

“It’s been very difficult,” Urbanski said.

“We are very satisfied with the services they provide,” Younis said last week. “We have not seen an impact on their services.”

Most of the cats from the neighborhood have been adopted or are ready for new homes, and neighbors are relieved that the stench left by cat byproducts has since dissipated.

“We all learned a lot from this,” Urbanski said.

Palo Alto Animal Services’ contract with Los Altos and Los Altos Hills is up for renewal in June 2014. The nonprofit accepts donations and has scheduled a fundraising event Nov. 16.

For more information on the agency, call 496-5971 or visit facebook.com/animalservices.

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