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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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City manager reflects on upcoming projects, priorities


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
City Manager Marcia Somers claims that in terms of civic involvement, Los Altos “has everyone beat.”

Marcia Somers assumed duties as Los Altos city manager in April 2012. Part one of the Town Crier “e-terview,” an email interview, follows.Somers offers her account of how she stepped into a leadership position in a city bursting with activity.

TC: First off, Marcia, give us a bit of background on why you accepted this position, including where you had been working.

Somers: I have been in the Bay Area for almost 40 years and lived in San Francisco, Palo Alto and, for the last 30 years, Campbell. My good fortune has been to gain a broad range of experience working in the private, nonprofit, education and public sectors. I’ve always been drawn to jobs that are broad in scope and organizations that are known for being well managed, but I also have a desire to reach for the next level. Los Altos fit the bill.

TC: Danville, where you previously served, has certain qualities in common with Los Altos. What are some?

Somers: I had an incredibly stimulating and rewarding 19 years with the town of Danville. There are many similarities between Danville and Los Altos, including both being situated in beautiful areas of the Bay Area surrounded by hills and creeks and a unique semirural atmosphere. The residents also have a lot in common, including being well educated and interested in contributing their time and talents to the community.

TC: What were your responsibilities, and how did Danville prepare you for this undertaking?

Somers: As the community services director in Danville, I was responsible for a full range of recreation services as well as maintenance services, which included parks, roadsides, streets and facilities. As assistant town manager for the past six years of my tenure, I oversaw maintenance services, recreation services, information technology and public information and provided assistance to other departments as well as continuing to manage a number of significant parks and facilities projects and providing direct support to the city council and city manager.

TC: After a year and a half as city manager here in Los Altos, what have been your biggest surprises?

Somers: I’ve always been a big proponent of citizen involvement and participation. I have participated as a community volunteer in a number of school, city and professional endeavors. But I’m convinced that Los Altos has everyone else beat. The level of volunteer support by residents in this community is unmatched anywhere.

TC: Occasionally, some citizens have discussions about the structure of our city government, including the idea of electing a mayor for four- or six-year terms instead of the mayor simply rotating among councilmembers to serve for one year as mayor mainly just to chair council meetings. What do you think of that?

Somers: Large cities, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland, can benefit from directly elected mayors given the size of their cities and scope and significance of the issues they face. Small cities, like Los Altos, benefit more from the collegial, nonpolitical approach to city business as well as an annual mayoral rotation. The mayoral role tends to be very busy, as requests for his/her appearance and participation in community events is fairly significant. The rotation allows councilmembers the opportunity to experience all those extra activities.

TC: Creating a new civic center has been on the schedule for the past five years. Do you have ideas on how to proceed?

Somers: The city council indicated during its annual planning retreat last January that construction of a new community center in the first phase of civic center improvements was a high priority. We are now in the process of moving forward with planning the redevelopment of this very important community asset.

Since I have had experience planning and constructing community facilities in both my previous cities, I recognize the tremendous value that these structures offer to a community and its residents by creating central gathering places and multipurpose activity spaces for citizens of all ages.

TC: What are two or three main items on your agenda for the next year?

Somers: While there are several priority items that are important for me to focus on, the first three that come to mind are redevelopment of the Hillview Community Center, planning for implementation of initiatives identified in the Downtown Parking Management Study and continuing to enhance city staff’s communication with the public.

Part two of the Somers e-terview is scheduled to run next week.

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