Woodside woman hailed a hero after Boston bombings | Page 3
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See Section 2 for photos, names of M-A and Woodside High grads
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UP F RONT
Woodside woman hailed as hero She is reunited with woman she comforted after the Boston bombings By Kate Daly Special to the Almanac
he woman hailed in last week’s national news, “Bombing survivor meets her hero,” is Amanda North of Woodside. Ever since she stood near the finish line during the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, Ms. North wondered about the fate of the gravely wounded woman she helped that day. That woman turned out to be Erika Brannock, the last survivor to be released from the hospital. After losing one leg and breaking the other, Ms. Brannock underwent 11 surgeries, and was finally transferred to a rehab facility in the Baltimore area on June 3. When CNN interviewed her that day she said she’d like to thank the stranger who saved her life. CNN broadcast a picture of a woman holding Ms. Brannock’s hand right after the blasts. Ms. North’s brother saw it on TV and texted his sister to tell her she was on the national news. Ms. North then contacted CNN, which made arrangements to fly her back east for a tearful reunion with Ms. Brannock on June 5. CNN broadcast the story that night. On June 6, Ms. North was glad to be out of the limelight and back home, hugging her dogs and taking them for a walk. She says the trip was an emotional experience, but “good closure. ... I really wanted to know what happened to her.” “The new normal for Erika is being in rehab for a very long time, and being fitted for a prosthesis,” Ms. North says. Ms. Brannock, 29, planned to visit the preschool she taught at before the bombing. Ms. North says Ms. Brannock wants to return to work as soon as she is able, and can master the skill of getting up and down off the f loor so she can play with her students again. Ms. North has invited the Brannocks to come to Cal-
Photo by Kate Daly
Amanda North at home in Woodside after reuniting with an injured woman she helped during the Boston Marathon bombing.
ifornia when she can travel. Ms. North says Ms. Brannock’s father told her when Ms. Brannock arrived at the hospital “she had three minutes to live, she was the closest to death. My yelling for help to get treatment might have made a difference.” Ms. Brannock’s mother told her: “I couldn’t be there. Thank you for being me.” Ms. Brannock attended the
Woodside’s Amanda North was also injured in the explosions. marathon to watch her mother run. Ms. North was there to watch her daughter, Lili, run. Some friends texted that they saw Lili approaching the finish. A woman switched places with Ms. North so she could have a better view. That’s when the first bomb blew. “Everyone fell backwards ... there was a boom, a flash of light ... and then a second explosion and I felt like it was 9/11,” Ms. North says. “It was an out-of-body experience,” she says. She spotted a man near her with both of his
legs blown off, and then she saw Ms. Brannock. “I felt she needed some help. ... She was conscious ... she had a big gaping wound. I slithered over.” Ms. North put her jacket on Ms. Brannock’s leg. Ms. North’s cell phone was in the pocket and got lost in the shuffle. Ironically, the phone’s cover had the words, “Keep calm and carry on.” A man asked for belts to use as a tourniquet and Ms. North took her belt off. It could have ended up on Ms. Brannock, but in all the chaos, it’s not clear. The explosions perforated their eardrums, so Ms. North and Ms. Brannock couldn’t hear well, and ended up getting each other’s names wrong (Joan and Irene, respectively), but Ms. North held Ms. Brannock’s hand and told her to hang on. Ms. North stayed with her until professional help arrived. Realizing she had her own injuries, Ms. North went to a medical tent and also was taken to the hospital. There she was treated for a deep gash in one leg, burn marks on the other, bits of shrapnel in both legs, and singed hair. The hospital reached her son and he relayed that Lili had been knocked off her feet during the bombing, but was fine. Cycle ahead seven weeks to June 5 when CNN TV cameras capture the reunion of Ms. North and Ms. Brannock. They hugged, cried and talked about their connection for life with Ms. North telling Ms. Brannock, “I’m never going to stop holding your hand.” CNN ran the story for two days, and added a live interview with Ms. North on the Anderson Cooper show in New York. Ms. North took the train from Baltimore to New York, and wore her two new Brannock tokens: a green sports top with Team Brannock written on it, and a dragonfly necklace Ms. Brannock gave her as a symbol of resilience and strength. See AMANDA, page 6
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Local News M
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Taking a breath between high school and college By Kate Daly Special to the Almanac
or many high school seniors, May 1 means one thing: the deadline for accepting admission to college. For some students, however, it may also mean deferring acceptance, and taking a gap year to do something entirely different. What the British have been doing for decades — taking time off between high school and college — “is definitely increasing in popularity,” according to Menlo School director of college counseling Mark Clevenger. “It’s likely this year two to four kids (at Menlo School) are thinking about it seriously, whereas five or six years ago we had nobody.” “Some kids are more tired at the end of four years (of high school) and rather than burn out, they’re looking for something else to do,” he explains, adding: “Colleges love it because it’s a great chance for students to mature a little bit.” For example, Harvard’s website states the university “encourages admitted students to defer enrollment for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time
in another meaningful way. ...” A business is growing around gap years, too. There are gapyear fairs, where various advisers and programs set up booths for students, parents and college counselors to peruse. Mr. Clevenger says he hasn’t attended a fair yet, but a representative of an organization based back East, the Center for Interim Programs, made a point to swing by his Atherton office to introduce the
Deferring college for a year is an attractive option for some students. counseling service. Since 1980, the company has been advising students on where to spend their gap year, and it claims to have thousands of ideas. Annie Madding of Atherton is now a sophomore at Vanderbilt University. She was one of five Menlo School students who took time off after graduating. She used the Center to help start her search for options. She chose first to travel to the Shamwari a game reserve in South Africa, where, she says,
she was the only American there at the time. “We did some manual labor, veterinary work, and helped with the general aims of the reserve,” such as tracking elephants, she says. During the winter she studied art history and Italian alongside mostly British gap-year students at the British Institute of Florence. After traveling around Italy for a month, she interned at Mpala, an ecology research center in Kenya, where she helped collect data and run experiments. “The experience has definitely changed what I am studying in college,” Ms. Madding says. She is majoring in political science with a minor in biology and possibly Italian, and is going back to study in Italy this fall “because I miss traveling so much.” Claire Gilhuly of Woodside is graduating from Duke University next month with a major in European history and a minor in French literature. She lived in London for five years before attending Menlo School and says very early on she set her mind on taking a gap year. “I knew it would help me grow, and would make me a very well-rounded
Claire Gilhuly of Woodside began her gap year in South Africa, in the small rural town of Kurland Village where she worked with preschoolers.
and open-minded person,” she says. “I just figured, if I have the opportunity to do something like this, why would I not?”
Ms. Gilhuly also began her gap year in South Africa, in the See TAKING A BREATH, page 14
Webb Ranch to sell produce at farmers’ markets By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer
t’s nearly summer, but the Webb Ranch fruit and vegetable stand at Alpine Road and Interstate 280 has been dark and empty. The ranch, in business since 1922, is in the process of trying something new, and old: selling produce at area farmers’ markets. Just in time for this change in routine will be a new Portola Valley farmers’ market, and it will join two Woodside markets that are less than a year old. The Webb Ranch produce stand may have seen its day. “I think we’re just trying to figure out, more or less, a business plan that will work,” ranch president Tom Hubbard told the Almanac. “Nowadays, it seems like having a real farmers’ market (is more popular). A lot more people attend those.” Besides, he added, customers often face “horrendous” traffic on Alpine Road.
The produce stand, according to the season, has sold organic berries, tomatoes, corn, stone fruit and pumpkins, and that service has been missed. “We’ve had calls from longtime customers asking, ‘How am I going to get your stuff?’” Mr. Hubbard said. “The plan is to be at anything local.” Some Webb Ranch routines will not change: the annual U-Pick berry harvest is set for mid-June, and pumpkins and Christmas trees will go on sale in the fall and winter, Mr. Hubbard said. Selling through farmers’ market is a back-to-the-future kind of thing, according to the company’s website. Webb Ranch began by selling produce through the intermediaries of a berry co-op and Purity Markets. The produce stand opened in 1963. As for 2013, it’s been a cool spring, which tends to slow down berry ripening, Mr. Hubbard said. The berries are about two weeks behind where they
Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac
The produce stand at Webb Ranch stands dormant this year.
were in 2012. When they’re ready, there will be two types of blackberries — olallieberry and Navaho, a thornless variety — as well as boysenberries, loganberries and raspberries, all certified organic. PV market coming
Woodside has two farmers’
markets that might work for Webb Ranch — on Wednesday afternoons in Skylonda, and on Sunday afternoons in the elementary school parking lot. Closer to home, a Portola Valley market is expected to open at 3 p.m. Thursday, June 13, in the parking lot of the Historic Schoolhouse. Town Hall has
confirmed that date, as has the Portola Valley Farmers’ Market website run by Maggie Foard. Ms Foard also manages the websites for the two Woodside markets. Go to tinyurl.com/WSPVmarkets for more information on these markets. See WEBB RANCH, page 10
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ear Town of Atherton: The check is not in the mail. That letter could have been written by the White House, or by the Democratic National Committee, or by one of several residents, delivering a clear message: Don’t expect reimbursement anytime soon for Atherton’s cost — about $7,600 — for police and public works services provided for the April 4 presidential visit to your fair town. But the town hasn’t abandoned all hope, City Manager George Rodericks says. Mr. Rodericks announced shortly after President Obama’s April visit for two fundraising events that the town would be “contacting all parties involved” to seek repayment for providing extra services. He sent invoices to the White House, the Secret Service, the DNC, and residents who hosted the two events: Marcia and John Goldman, and Liz Simons and Mark Heising. The town received a response from one of the residents AMANDA continued from page 3
In return, Ms. North gave her a favorite scarf she bought when she was in her 20s. Ms. North describes it as “a symbol of adventure and doing fun stuff” before she started working in marketing for various Silicon Valley high-tech firms and having kids. “I like to think of myself as a person who is appreciative, and try to live a purposeful life,” Ms. North says, adding she’s grateful for all the support she has received since the bombing. People brought food, sent flowers, and still check in with her to see how she’s doing. After this last burst of media exposure, many former classmates
“requesting additional clarification on the rationale for the invoice and history,” Mr. Rodericks said in a report to the City Council. The DNC also wrote back, saying it won’t pay the bill, and suggesting that the town might have more luck getting reimbursed by the Secret Service, he said. At this point, Mr. Rodericks told the Almanac, the town’s only recourse is to continue to pursue reimbursement from the homeowners who hosted the events. “Or, we could sue the White House — but we’re not going to do that.” He said town staff is prepared to “go through a lot of hoops and hurdles” to entreat the homeowners for repayment “in a more formal way than just a letter.” If all else fails, he said, the town could attach a lien on the properties and collect the money through the property tax rolls. The events included a brunch, where tickets went for $32,400 per person; and a luncheon, where tickets started at $1,000 per person. Lunch and a photo with the president cost $5,000, or $7,500 for two people. A
are back in touch, too. Ms. North says she did not want to be in the public eye, but has agreed to share her story at her church during services at Menlo Park Presbyterian on June 15 at 5 p.m., and on June 16 at 8, 9:30 and 11 a.m. A spokesperson says these are not fundraising events; the church plans to do something separate for Ms. Brannock. Ms. North’s daughter will be back studying at Harvard in the fall and training to run in the Boston Marathon next spring to raise money for Ms. Brannock. Ms. Brannock has many expenses during her recovery, and her family and friends have set up a fund for her. Visit thebrannockfund.com for more information. A
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School district voters may be asked to OK $23 million bond measure By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor
chool board members on June 11 were set to consider a staff recommendation to ask residents of the Menlo Park City School District to pass a $23 million bond measure in November to pay for construction of a new school at the former O’Connor school site. The money would be used to construct a 16-classroom school with a capacity for some 360 students. The district’s staff has recommended that the school be configured for grades 3-5, but designed so that it could be converted to a K-5 school. (Visit AlmanacNews.com for updates. The meeting was held after the Almanac went to press.)
The board also is expected to consider a recommendation to allow the private school now leasing the site — the GermanAmerican International School (GAIS) — to remain on the campus through May 15, 2015. The district had recently rewritten the lease agreement with the school, applying a termination clause to force it to vacate the campus by June 2014. The original lease expired in June 2016. The bond measure would be on the Nov. 5 ballot, and approval would require a 55 percent favorable vote. According to draft bond language and an overview by the district, the “best estimate” of the maximum tax rate levied to meet the debt service of the proposed bond would be $8.70 per year per $100,000 of assessed valua-
tion of taxable property. The board voted earlier this year to take back the O’Connor campus, at 275 Elliot Drive in Menlo Park, to provide more space for a burgeoning enrollment in the district’s four schools: Encinal and Laurel in Atherton, and Oak Knoll and Hillview Middle in Menlo Park. The O’Connor site now has only one permanent building, constructed in the 1950s. GAIS uses a large number of portable buildings for its students. The June 11 meeting was scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. in the district’s board room, 181 Encinal Ave. in Atherton Go to tinyurl.com/MPSDbond for the board agenda, and go to item No. 8 for the staff report and financial breakdown for the proposed project.
REAL ESTATE TRENDS by Samia Cullen
Preventing Mold in Your Home When you are selling your home, typically a home inspection is conducted. Among the many items a home inspector will check for is the presence of mold in the home. If mold is discovered, the buyer will likely ask for further inspection and remediation before the transaction closes. Mold can cause damage to the home itself, and also poses a health risk. Indoor exposure to mold has been linked to upper respiratory tract symptoms in otherwise healthy people. People with mold allergies, immune-compromised people and people with chronic lung illnesses may have more severe reactions when they are exposed to mold. Mold grows indoors and outdoors wherever there is a lot of moisture - in the air and on many surfaces. Mold can enter your home through open doorways, windows, vents, and heating and air conditioning systems. Mold in the air outside can also attach itself to clothing, shoes, bags, and pets can and be carried indoors. Mold
growth, which often looks like spots, can be many different colors, and can smell musty. If you can see or smell mold, a health risk may be present. No matter what type of mold is present, you should remove it and work to prevent future growth. Mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. If the area to be cleaned is more than 10 square feet, hire a mold remediation company. You can control mold growth inside your home by controlling humidity levels, promptly ﬁxing leaky roofs, windows, and pipes, ventilating shower, laundry, and ceooking areas, and thoroughly cleaning and drying after ﬂooding. Please check the Centers for Disease Control website for more comprehensive information.
If you have a real estate question or would like a free market analysis for your home, please call me at 650-384-5392, Alain Pinel Realtors, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For the latest real estate news, follow my blog at www.samiacullen.com
Menlo weighs privacy vs. surveillance By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer
n the heels of an announcement of the long-awaited Belle Haven police substation, the Menlo Park council found itself mulling over privacy rights versus surveillance. With revived interest in expanding Menlo Park’s law enforcement facilities comes a look at how to widen the police department’s technological capabilities as well. In addition to extending East Palo Alto’s ShotSpotter gunfire detection system to cover Belle Haven and eventually adding surveillance cameras in key sites around the city, Police Chief Robert Jonsen plans to deploy up to three mobile automated license plate readers. The department recently borrowed one plate reader from Daly City to monitor a funeral, Chief Jonsen told the council on
June 4, and has also asked San Mateo County to loan its five units out as needed. The mobile automated license plate readers, used by East Palo Alto as well as the county and other local jurisdictions, run hundreds of plates a minute within a 360-degree arc.
Menlo council approves police substation By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer
s if the Menlo Park council needed another reason to celebrate Facebook’s relocation to the city, the social media company has now chipped in to help open a new police substation in Belle Haven. Facebook recently volunteered to help fund the substation, and followed through by guaranteeing to cover $2,750 in monthly rent and to pay for renovations to make the facility — to be located in a strip mall at 871 Hamilton Ave. off Willow Road
— a place where residents want to drop by. “It’s amazing generosity,” Vice Mayor Ray Mueller noted and thanked the social media company for stepping up. The council unanimously approved a three-year renewable lease for the new substation on June 4. The police department expects to get access to the site by mid-June and estimated that remodeling would take about three months. How much it will cost the city to staff the site remains to be determined, according to
the staff report, but the police department expects to staff it at least part time during regular hours and also have officers rotate through while on patrol. It’s been about 10 years since Menlo Park first announced its intent to open a substation in the Belle Haven neighborhood. The current location at Newbridge Avenue fell short of expectations in both staffing and hours of operation; plans to build a new facility on Ivy Drive fell through due to construction conflicts and the loss of the city’s redevelopment agency. A
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Legal granny units coming to Menlo Park By Sandy Brundage Almanac Staff Writer
ranny’s got a new place to stay, or at least she will, once the Menlo Park City Council concludes its authorization of secondary, aka “in-law,” aka “granny,” units. The council voted 3-2, with Kirsten Keith and Ray Mueller dissenting, during its June 4 meeting to introduce an update to the city’s laws that will legalize building granny units on lots of at least 6,000 square feet. How many bedrooms allowed, distance between homes and whether owners wanting to reduce that distance through smaller setbacks should have to get approval from neighboring property owners all came up for discussion. In the end, the council opted to allow one secondary unit of up to 640 square feet of living space per lot, with one bathroom and either a single bedroom or a studio configuration. Each unit must have at least 10-foot setbacks, reducible to 5 feet with written approval from the owners of bordering properties. Walls may climb up to 9 feet, unless located in a f lood zone where construction can go higher if necessary, and a maximum total height of 17 feet for the entire granny unit.
Parking may be handled by either putting cars behind one another, within a side yard, or in the front yard if no more than 500 square feet, including driveways, is paved. The ordinance also requires that the property owner live either in the main house or the granny unit. Council members Kirsten Keith and Ray Mueller opposed involving neighbor approval for smaller setbacks, instead favoring having the property owner apply for a variance through the city — a more expensive route, but possibly more likely to maintain harmonious relationships between neighbors. The new regulations came about as part of an update to the city’s housing plan as required by a lawsuit settlement over the city’s failure to comply with state housing law for the past 10 years. To catch up, Menlo Park has to find sites where zoning changes could allow construction of about 900 new housing units, with 454 units dedicated to affordable housing. The council was expected to pass the ordinance at its June 11 meeting; it will then take effect in 30 days. See AlmanacNews.com for an update on the meeting, which occurred after the newspaper went to press. A
Portola Valley to discuss affordable housing report By Dave Boyce Almanac Staff Writer
he Portola Valley Town Council will meet this week to discuss a report from a committee of nine volunteers on how the town should address the controversial topic of affordable housing mandates. Missing from the Ad Hoc Affordable Housing Committee’s 11-page report is the divisive tone that characterized much of the public discussion/ debate leading up to this group effort. The report’s key concerns: distributing rather than grouping together any condominiums that might be built, and retaining local control of land use. The report favors second units and affordable housing for seniors and employees of an employer that serves Portola Valley residents. The council meets at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, in the Historic Schoolhouse at 765 Portola
Road. Also on the agenda: the budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The report was requested by the council in January when it commissioned the committee. The report includes feedback from community discussions on the issue and options on how the town could meet its obligations. Go to tinyurl.com/PVR-223 and click on the link “Committee Report to Town Council.” State law requires every community to accommodate a diverse population through good-faith efforts to plan for homes affordable to various income levels. Why? The Department of Housing and Community Development, according to Portola Valley planning consultant Karen Kristiansson, considers the shortage of affordable housing in the state a crisis and places the blame on local landuse regulations. Regional agencies set specific
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Block party adds diaper derby By Sandy Brundage