Rain prompts first-ever Festival of Lights Parade cancellation

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Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Festival of Lights volunteer Brian Johnston puts away parade costumes Sunday afternoon at the city of Los Altos’ maintenance yard. Rain and heavy wind forced parade organizers to cancel the event, which was scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Sunday.

Sunday night should have been a time for illuminated holiday floats, costumed characters and marching bands parading down Main Street before thousands of cheering people. Instead, downtown Los Altos streets were mostly empty amid occasionally brisk winds and a steady downpour of rain.

For the first time in the 42-year history of the event, there was no Festival of Lights Parade. Organizers made the tough call late Friday night to cancel the popular parade – traditionally held the Sunday following Thanksgiving – as weather forecasts showed no break in the rain blanketing the Los Altos area.

Los Altos firefighter hangs up helmet after four decades

One might say Jim Werner was destined for a firefighting career. He rode his first fire engine at age 3, a toy steered around the backyard of his parents’ Los Altos home. By age 6, “Smokey the Bear,” the classic tale of a black bear who teaches children about the danger of fire, had become Werner’s favorite book. And when the Santa Clara County Fire Department captain retired last month, he did so from the Loyola Fire Station, the same station that helped him license his first bicycle at age 9.

“It was a great career,” Werner said in an interview last week. “I feel immensely blessed. I’m very thankful for the Lord for providing this job.”

County offers new low-income dental services

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Nov. 19 to lease dental office space in Mountain View in an effort to provide access to dental health care for North County residents who would otherwise go without.

The new offices will house a dental clinic serving patients who were previously seen at the Valley Health Center clinic in Sunnyvale, and will now be able to serve additional low-income patients, including those covered by Medi-Cal, Valley Health Plan and some commercial insurers. The clinic will be open to those without insurance on a sliding scale up to 200% of the Family Poverty Level, which is approximately $50,000 for a family of four. 

Town Crier undergoes leadership change

The Los Altos Town Crier is under new ownership.

Effective Dec. 1, a new group of locally based owners – including three long-standing Town Crier employees – assumed leadership of the 72-year-old weekly newspaper from Paul and Liz Nyberg. Community volunteer and 2018 Los Altan of the Year Dennis Young is now on board as co-owner and co-publisher.

Delayed but not axed: Bike path tree removal project to proceed

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Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Palo Alto urban forester Walter Passmore, in fluorescent vest, leads community members on a tour of the Los Altos-Palo Alto Bike Path, far right, along the way pointing out trees set to be removed and pruned.

In October 2015, residents of Palo Alto’s Barron Park neighborhood were shocked to see mature oaks and other trees bulldozed along the nearby Bol Park Pathway. Their removal, the residents came to learn, was needed to accommodate the relocation of the VA Palo Alto Health Care System’s Loop Road.

“It went from something that was totally hidden by trees to a situation where we have these buildings looming over the bike path for a half-mile,” said Frank Crossman of Barron Park.

Resident protest prompts pause of tree removal project

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Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
A woman walks her dog along the Los Altos-Palo Alto bike path Monday. Residents are rallying to save the path’s trees.

On any given day, hundreds of Los Altos and Palo Alto residents use the half-mile stretch of paved path between Los Altos Avenue and Arastradero Road. They walk their dogs, commute to work and school by bike or simply engage in a leisurely stroll under the serene canopy of trees.

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