Rainy winter heralds a fiery summer

Mountain View fire
Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Mountain View firefighters suppress a brush fire along Highway 237 near Central Expressway. The July 11 blaze threw ash and smoke across much of southern Mountain View.

Don’t be fooled by the winter season’s bounty of precipitation. Fire season is underway, and wildfire conditions are more foreboding than in years past, officials warn.

“The rain is fantastic, but what that rain has done is it’s allowed everything to grow and a lot of it to grow,” said Pam Temmermand, fire prevention specialist with CAL FIRE.

Local "Veteran of the Year" brings change to justice system

Courtesy of Duncan MacVicar
MacVicar, right, in Vietnam.

When veterans break the law in the U.S., they enter a court system that may not understand some of their specialized problems – or the resources that exist, if activated, to support them.

Longtime Los Altos resident Duncan MacVicar witnessed the situation up close 10 years ago, in a case that became a calling.

LAH officials seek access, safety improvements at exclusive park

Foothills Park
Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Palo Alto residents Allison Macbain, left, and Mehdi Panahi enjoy the serenity of Boronda Lake in Foothills Park June 27.

A single hour on a single afternoon at Foothills Park last week hosted a flock of birdwatchers, hikers, picnickers, fishermen, a film crew and children practicing swordplay with sticks. Despite the activity, the scene remained serene, the twittering of songbirds and waterfowl unmuted in an oasis far removed from Silicon Valley’s relentless hum.

Located on Page Mill Road between Interstate 280 and Skyline Boulevard, Foothills Park has long proved a tantalizing beauty to Los Altos Hills; the 1,400-acre site is owned by the city of Palo Alto, whose residents have exclusive access to the trails, vistas and placid Boronda Lake within. Some nonresidents gain access on weekdays when the park’s guard booth is unmanned, but Los Altos Hills Mayor Gary Waldeck recently renewed efforts for official access.

NASA mission reveals hundreds of new planet candidates

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
A panel answers audience questions at a June 19 briefing about the Kepler Mission at NASA Ames Research Center. Pictured, from left, are Michele Johnson, NASA public affairs manager; Mario Perez, Kepler program scientist; Susan Thompson, Kepler research scientist for the SETI Institute; Benjamin Fulton, doctoral candidate at the University of Hawaii at Manoa; and Courtney Dressing, NASA Sagan Fellow at Caltech.

Toshi Komatsu knows the exact date of the Kepler Mission launch and is unlikely to ever forget it. March 6, 2009, came just days after the birth of his first son, and Komatsu was lulling the infant to sleep while sneaking peeks at his computer to watch the Delta II rocket soar into the great beyond.

“It’s a mission that’s very near and dear to my heart, certainly,” said Komatsu, director of De Anza College’s Fujitsu Planetarium.

Don McDonald: Los Altos loses historian, gentleman


Donald C. McDonald never stopped learning. Los Altos’ unofficial town historian was a true Renaissance man, equally conversant in the sciences and the arts. Buoyed by an insatiable curiosity, he inhaled information with boundless enthusiasm.

Mr. McDonald, named the Town Crier’s 2010 Los Altan of the Year, died June 23, surrounded by family and friends. Mr. McDonald was 98, one month short of his 99th birthday.

El Camino Healthcare District board member Chiu resigns

Dennis Chiu resigned from his positions on the five-member, publicly elected El Camino Healthcare District Board of Directors and the El Camino Hospital Board of Directors, effective June 30.

According to Chiu, other responsibilities prevent him from being able to devote time to the district and hospital boards.

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