Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 13, 2012

News Digest

Mountain View woman wins $1 million lottery prize

Mountain View resident Emily Leach had the good fortune to wake up from a tumor-induced coma two years ago, and on Friday she won $1 million in the state lottery to pay off her medical bills.

The 30-year-old Mountain View resident found the winning $10 ticket among 40 she had purchased from the Liquor and Tobacco store at 1040 N. Rengstorff Ave. When she scratched the winning number on the $250 Million Cash Spectacular sweepstakes ticket, she reportedly locked herself in her car and frantically called her mother, who thought she had been in a car accident.

"I've got so many medical expenses, and all of my paychecks go to paying Kaiser and to live here and everything," she said in an ABC television interview Monday. "Just things like this just don't happen to me, you know. I don't know — it's a miracle."

Leach reportedly also won $5,000 in the lottery just before Christmas.

"Her lottery winnings will go a long way toward paying off medical bills and helping out her family, who she says have helped her tremendously," reports the California Lottery website. "Emily also told us that she has two brothers who live out of state, so she hopes to get everyone together for a much-needed family vacation."

Leach continues to battle her tumor and says it was a miracle that she woke up from her coma. The odds of her winning the Lottery prize? One in 1.2 million.

Enrico Fermi Award for Burton Richter

Nobel Prize winner Burton Richter, director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) in Menlo Park from 1984 to 1999, and Mildred S. Dresselhaus are winners of the Enrico Fermi Award, one of the government's most prestigious awards for scientific achievement.

The presidential award carries an honorarium of $50,000, shared equally, and a gold medal. It is administered on behalf of the White House by the U.S. Department of Energy. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu will present the Fermi award at a ceremony in Washington at a later date.

Richter's work includes development and exploitation of accelerator technologies that have resulted in several Nobel Prize-winning discoveries and his own Nobel Prize-winning discovery in experimental particle physics in 1976.

Since stepping down as SLAC director in 1999, Richter has chaired the Nuclear Energy Research Advisory Committee in the Department of Energy, where he was a principal adviser to the deputy secretary of energy on the development of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. He served for six years on the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board and now serves on the newly established Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Advisory Board.

Richter, a Palo Alto resident, is an emeritus professor of physical sciences at Stanford University.

Dresselhaus is a professor emeritus at MIT. Her portfolio of research accomplishments includes many discoveries leading to understanding in various condensed matter systems. She is considered a premier mentor and spokesperson for women in science.

Ramona Street home no longer 'historic'

Christopher Pickett's Ramona Street home was built in 1895, but on Monday (Jan. 9) the Palo Alto City Council agreed with Pickett that the Queen Anne-style house isn't technically "historic" and should be erased from the city's Historic Inventory.

The council voted unanimously to remove the home at 935 Ramona St. from the inventory, making it possible for the family to remodel the home without conducting lengthy environmental reviews. In doing so, the council overturned a decision by the Historic Resources Board (HRB), which voted in September to deny Pickett's request — only the second such request that the city has received in a dozen years.

It took a city analysis, two consultant studies and two public hearings, but the council on Monday ruled that the Historic Resources Board relied on the wrong standards when it concluded that the house, despite major renovations, maintains its historical "integrity." City staff had disagreed, noting that the house had been remodeled so significantly since 1976 that it no longer qualifies as historic.

The list of modifications includes a "substantial redesign of the roof," "alteration of the entire right side facade" and replacement of almost every historic window and door with the modern variety.

Staff's conclusion was independently confirmed by the historic-architecture firm Garavaglia Architecture, which concluded that the building should not be listed as historic. Pickett then hired another architecture firm, Page & Turnbull, to review the Garavaglia study. Page & Turnbull reached the same conclusion as Garavaglia.

— Gennady Sheyner

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