Fri08012014

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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Special Sections

Long live the lawn: Los Altos native offers drought-resistant strategies

Long live the lawn: Los Altos native offers drought-resistant strategies


Bill Steiner’s grass is green, left, even amid the drought. He followed Max Todd’s water and maintainence instructions after having his lawn aerated, Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

Green lawns are not necessarily on the endangered list during the d...

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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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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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