Palo Alto Weekly

News - August 20, 2010

News Digest

Barnes & Noble opening in downtown Palo Alto

Bookstore giant Barnes & Noble is moving into downtown Palo Alto, but shoppers will still need to head to Redwood City because the new space is not for retail.

Instead, the new offices are expected to house the company's electronic book reader, or "Nook," software-development division, according to Palo Alto Deputy City Manager Steve Emslie.

The book seller is renovating 10,000 square feet of office space on the second and third floors of 300 Hamilton Ave., at the corner of Bryant Street. The improvements are projected to cost $835,000, according to city records.

Barnes & Noble has not yet released its expected move-in date.

The Nook became available for pre-order October 2009 and sold out before Dec. 25. Stores began stocking it in February. Barnes & Noble now sells the Wi-Fi model for $149 and the Wi-Fi and 3G model for $199.

According to Gizmodo and other tech blogs, Barnes & Noble plans to release an updated and improved Nook 2 later this year, though Barnes & Noble has not confirmed these reports.

Police investigate small fire at Jordan school

Palo Alto police are searching for two teenage boys suspected of setting fire to a beach towel at Jordan Middle School Sunday evening (Aug. 15), the fourth blaze at a Palo Alto public school or park since July 7, Palo Alto police Officer Mariana Villaescusa said.

The teenagers allegedly fled from Jordan after a bicyclist raced over to stomp out the flames. The bicyclist relayed details about what he witnessed to a neighbor who had also come to help extinguish the blaze. The cyclist then left and the neighbor called police at 7:49 p.m., Villaescusa said.

Villaescusa said there was no danger of the isolated fire spreading to nearby buildings. There were no accelerants, such as gasoline, used on the towel, she said.

The suspects were described as white males between 15 and 18 years old, about 5 feet 10 inches tall, with one wearing a red shirt and the other wearing a gray shirt. Police have not determined if the fire is related to other school and park fires reported in the last month and a half, Villaescusa said.

A play structure was set aflame on July 7 at Hoover Park, a wood-and-plastic fire was started at Ohlone Elementary School on July 25 and a Dumpster was torched at Gunn High School on Aug. 3. A $2,000 reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in relation to the Hoover Park fire.

Parents of EPA plane crash victim sue pilot, firm

The parents of a man who died in a plane crash in East Palo Alto in February filed a lawsuit Aug. 17 alleging that the plane's pilot, who also died in the crash, was negligent in taking off even though heavy fog created dangerous conditions.

The suit was filed by Paul and Barbara Ingram, the parents of 31-year-old Andrew Ingram of Palo Alto, and seeks unspecified damages from the estate of 56-year-old pilot Douglas Bourn and the company he ran, Air Unique Inc.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the twin-engine Cessna 310 that Bourn piloted struck power lines and a PG&E tower at 7:54 a.m. on Feb. 17.

The plane was about 50 feet above the ground and had just departed from the Palo Alto Municipal Airport. It was heading to Hawthorne, Calif.

All three men on the plane — Ingram, Bourn and 42-year-old Brian Finn of East Palo Alto — died in the crash. They all worked for Tesla Motors of Palo Alto.

No one on the ground was injured.

The lawsuit, which was filed in San Mateo County Superior Court by Burlingame attorney Frank Pitre, alleges: "This crash was foreseeable and avoidable had the owner and operator of the aircraft (Bourn) demonstrated concern for the safety of his passengers, instead of blatant disregard for his lack of recent flying experience, poor weather and the condition of his aircraft before deciding to embark on a risky take-off."

The suit also states: "Bourn knew that the airport and surrounding area was shrouded in dense fog, with visibility limited to one-eighth of a mile."

Joshua Cawthra, lead aviation accident investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), told the Weekly on Aug. 11 that the investigation into the cause of the crash is still ongoing. A report is expected by the end of the year, he said.

— Sue Dremann and Bay City News Service

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