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News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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Spiritual Life

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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LAH selects new manager for Westwind


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
After weighing the credentials of both candidates, the Los Altos Hills City Council chose riding instructor Torie Dye to oversee operations at Westwind Community Barn.

There was little room to spare in Los Altos Hills’ City Council Chambers Jan. 14 as residents and guests jammed the space for the evening’s hottest topic – selecting a concessionaire to run Westwind Community Barn.

“We should have charged admission, because this was a really great show,” said Councilman Rich Larsen of the presentations.

Since the town assumed management of the barn in 1998, the facility has operated under a deficit. Councilmembers expressed optimism that an experienced concessionaire could increase the barn’s revenue and restore it to full operation. Although the town will continue to provide maintenance, 24-hour surveillance and barn oversight, the new manager will oversee commercial boarding, parks and recreation riding programs, facility scheduling and 4-H equine services.

Choosing between two candidates – young riding instructor Torie Dye and 30-year veteran Laura Stevens – the council voted 3-2 to accept Dye’s bid. Her three-year contract is slated to begin Feb. 1.

The selection process

Appearing before the council last week for final interviews, Dye and Stevens conveyed their passion for horses and their commitment to cultivating human-equine bonds.

Based on the number of people who attended the meeting to support her, Dye shouldn’t lack for riding students at Westwind. Dye has served as head instructor/program manager at Fremont Hills Stables in Los Altos Hills. She revealed plans to expand Westwind’s Pacific Ridge Pony Club as part of a larger effort to boost boarding revenue.

Stevens shared a vision for a barn focused on trail riding and balancing community programs with boarding.

Councilmembers volleyed questions between candidates before laying out their opinions.

“If I were a manager and these were my employees, how would I look at the assignment?” Councilman John Harpootlian said of the hiring decision. “Is the one person ready for it or does she need some additional experience? We may be giving Torie a more difficult challenge than she’s ready for. The more conservative route would be to select someone who has quite a bit more management experience.”

Harpootlian ultimately cast his vote for Stevens.

Larsen, a Dye supporter, seemed more confident in his decision.

“As a guy who comes from the high-tech knowledge world, I’d like to see a Westwind Barn 2.0,” he said. “I think we need some change. We need somebody with vision and skills to create new programs, to get more kids involved, to get more Los Altos Hills residents involved.”

A flurry of emails sent to town staff and councilmembers prior to last week’s meeting showed support for both candidates, but the mobilization of a cadre of supporters on Dye’s behalf at the meeting may have swayed opinion in her direction. Dye’s students and other advocates wore colorful campaign buttons and praised her when they stepped to the podium, vouching for her capabilities as a riding instructor and leader. For every comment in support of Stevens, Dye received four.

Councilwoman Courtenay C. Corrigan, who voted for Dye, said the decision proved “one of the toughest nights” on the council.

During the first year under new Westwind management, the town voted to allocate no more than $72,000 for operating subsidies, $10,000 for a one-time mobilization fee and a monthly boarding subsidy not to exceed $72,000 annually. Subsidy allocations will be reviewed and adjusted after the first six months of operation and council anticipates a reduction in subsidies over time.

The council also approved a $115,000 contract for renovation and repair work to the facility’s lower arena.

Dye said she is eager to jump-start programs and plans to host a welcome barbecue at the barn to kick off her community engagement efforts.

“My biggest priority is to revitalize Westwind Barn and bring it back to the wonderful place it can be … to get all user groups reinvolved,” she said.

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