FOND FAREWELL ... Full disclosure: Jay Thorwaldson had spent the last 10 years of his five-decades-long journalism career at the Weekly before he retired last week. On Monday night, the City Council sent a clear message that Thorwaldson's departure will be felt not only in the Weekly's newsroom but also in the community at large. Mayor Sid Espinosa read aloud a special proclamation, listing some of Thorwaldson's most notable achievements, including a five-part investigative series in 1971 that led to the creation of the Palo Alto Fire Department's paramedic unit; a 1970 editorial that resulted in the creation of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District; and the Family LifeSkills program he set up at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, which focused on communication between parents and teenagers. The official proclamation also states that Thorwaldson "knows the AP Style Book backwards and forwards and can recite every page by memory" and has "made unforgettable contributions to Palo Alto and to the entire Bay Area." Councilman Larry Klein praised Thorwaldson for his ability to advocate for issues he is passionate about, including his support for the open-space district in 1970 (Klein was part of that effort). At the time, Thorwaldson was a young writer at the Palo Alto Times, and he had to convince his editor to run the editorial. "Jay is not just a critic — he's one who uses his journalistic soapbox to make this place and other places a better place to live," Klein said.
WHAT'S IN A NAME? ... After wrestling with California's high-speed-rail project for two years, Palo Alto officials now face a more pressing problem: keeping Caltrain alive. On Thursday morning, a City Council committee recognized this change in priorities and offered to change its own name. If the full council agrees, the council High-Speed Rail Committee would be rechristened as the Rail Committee. The committee considered other alternatives, including the High-Speed Rail/Caltrain Committee — a mouthful of a proposal that ultimately faltered. The new name is meant to signify a "changed strategy" for the committee now that the high-speed-rail project is slated to start in Central Valley. The project has galvanized the Palo Alto community and the council, which last year joined a lawsuit against the California High-Speed Rail Authority. By contrast, the council is deeply concerned about Caltrain, which is facing steep budget shortfalls and service reductions. "Why don't we divorce high-speed rail?" committee Chair Larry Klein asked as the meeting concluded. "Or get a pre-nup," Councilwoman Nancy Shepherd quipped.
VET GETS THE GOLD ... U.S. Army Combat Medic Stephen Evans, who grew up in Palo Alto and graduated from Los Altos High School, was severely wounded a year ago in Iraq, when the truck he was riding in was attacked. Evans suffered a broken skull, jaw, leg and eye socket, along with a traumatic brain injury, severe burns and lacerations. But Evans didn't let his considerable injuries get him down for long. After months of rehabilitation, Evans was selected to compete in canoeing in the para-athlete division (for athletes with physical disabilities) of the Slalom Pan American Championships held in Mexico in January. He not only participated but paddled away with the gold medal. "He's come a long way since he was on life support," proud father and Palo Alto resident Henry Evans said.
TOUR OF TRIUMPH ... Baseball fans all over the Peninsula cheered last fall, when the San Francisco Giants defeated the Texas Rangers and claimed the 2010 World Series Trophy. On Feb. 15, baseball's greatest prize will make an appearance in East Palo Alto, where fans will have an opportunity to see and take photos of it. The trophy will be displayed between 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. at the city's newly remodeled Youth Activity Center, 550 Bell St.