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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Worried about watering? Consider conservation during drought


Julie Orr/Special to the Town Crier
A homeowner transformed this former pool into a native garden paradise with a boulder water feature.

Given the lack of rainfall, Gov. Jerry Brown recently declared a drought state of emergency, asking residents to conserve water in any way possible. One of the easiest ways to protect the precious water supply we have in reserve is to use less in our landscapes.

When clients ask me to help them become more water-wise, we review two main things: reducing irrigation by using drought-tolerant plants to create beautiful landscapes, and reusing water creatively in the home and the garden.

If a homeowner has a lawn that is too big, underused or in poor condition, an easy fix is a lawn reduction or complete removal. Replacing a lawn with either site-appropriate plants like California natives or Mediterranean plants – or a combination – not only looks great, but is also more interesting than a boring monoculture of lawn.

Where lawns are necessary because they are used as play surfaces for children, consider low-water native sod blends that, once established, could survive drought conditions.

As an incentive, some water districts offer rebates of up to $1,000 for residential lawn removal. For more information on the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency’s Lawn Be Gone program, visit bawsca.org/water-conservation/residential-water-conservation-programs/lawn-be-gone.

Another great way to conserve water is to reuse it by installing a greywater system. Greywater is water that is used once in the home and then a second time in the landscape. These systems are often connected to a washing machine (for simple systems) or shower, bathtub or faucet (larger systems).

Greywater is preferable to rainwater harvesting for garden irrigation simply because it is a year-round water source that doesn’t require large storage capacity.

For clients with higher budgets, a closed-loop system is a great choice. Rainwater is used to supply water to the home’s toilet, laundry and showers in conjunction with greywater, which sends that same water (not toilet water – that’s considered blackwater) back into the garden. Therefore, the municipal water gets used as a backup source only.

Greywater is best for irrigating trees (including fruit), shrubs and perennials. Because greywater tends to run alkaline, it is perfectly suited to neutral soils or alkaline plants such as natives. I don’t recommend it for any root crop vegetables (like carrots, whose roots have direct contact with soil) due to the slight chance of human contaminants getting onto your edibles.

After you install a greywater system, you’ll need to use greywater-safe household products like salt-free detergents and bathing products. Also, local code requires that your irrigation be on a drip line buried 2 inches deep by either soil or mulch to avoid airborne pathogens.

I recently had the pleasure of attending a greywater lecture hosted by the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. John Russell from WaterSprout stated: “A family of four can save about 38,000 gallons of water per year with a greywater system, and I’ve never been turned down when requesting a permit from the city.”

WaterSprout promotes five greywater systems from the simple to the complex. Pricing varies because each project comes with its own unique site requirements and challenges, but there are solutions for every budget. For a wealth of information including diagrams, visit Russell’s website at watersprout.org.

If you are concerned about saving water, have a conversation with a professional landscape designer who has experience in sustainable solutions and water-wise designs. Landscape designers often have the resources and knowledge to help you build the right team for your project.

Julie Orr is a landscape designer and member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. For more information, call 468-8020 or visit julieorrdesign.com.

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