Around TownTHE PALO ALTAN AND THE PREZ ... Lucky local Sarah Lux was one of eight people selected to participate in a Q&A panel and meet President Barack Obama during his recent Town Hall meeting at the Computer History Museum, sponsored by Mountain View's LinkedIn. Lux, a native of Canada who says she is "living the American Dream," is the owner of Uforia Studios in the former A.M.E. Zion Church building on Ramona Street in downtown Palo Alto. Lux was selected after she responded to a short survey sent to her via LinkedIn last week. Two days later, she received a call with the news that she'd be sitting in the front row during Obama's visit. The event took careful preparation, she wrote in an email to the Weekly. "We rehearsed for hours ... it was a real bonding experience. About a third of the participants were unemployed, the other third were in manufacturing or physical labor and the other third were small-business owners." Though Lux was ultimately not able to ask Obama the question she had prepared about health insurance for small businesses, she did get to shake his hand. "It was pretty surreal; he definitely uses moisturizer; his hands were amazingly soft," she said. To read about the Town Hall meeting, and see photos, go to www.PaloAltoOnline.com and search for "Obama tackles jobs."
WHO'S ACCOUNTABLE?... Silicon Valley Community Foundation CEO Emmett Carson leveled a broadside against the local system of educational organization this week. Having a total of 56 separate school districts in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties constitutes a "fundamentally flawed system" that makes accountability nearly impossible, he said this week. "It boggles the imagination that our region's public schools are not international models for using technology to teach our children," Carson told an audience at the Sharon Heights Golf & Country Club. Instead, only 39 percent of the region's high school graduates meet prerequisites for the California State University system. Carson spoke at the annual breakfast of A-LEARN, a Los Altos nonprofit that sponsors summer math programs for low-income youth.
100 YEARS YOUNG ... Margaret Marquardt, a resident of Palo Alto for nearly six decades and former registered nurse, celebrated her 100th birthday with family, neighbors and friends on Sept. 24. She told the Weekly that her secret recipe for healthy life and longevity is a combination of "good food and working hard, never laying around." And she added that "I am always working on my legs. I like to do everything. I don't worry about a thing. No stress. I am happy all the time. I try to be nice and everybody is nice to me." Marquardt was born Sept. 23, 1911, in Montana. She ran a first-aid room at the Stanford Shopping Center for 25 years until her nursing license expired when she was 97. Congratulations on her 100th birthday came from as far away as the White House. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama signed a letter for her centennial birthday. "She is our neighborhood grandma," said her granddaughter Michelle Gooyer. "Her charisma had brought people in the neighborhood together."
CLOSED FOR REMODELING … Call it "Extreme Makeover: Park Edition." This past Monday (Sept. 26), Palo Alto's El Camino Park was closed as the first step in the construction of a new underground water reservoir and well, which is a part of the Utilities Department's long-term citywide emergency water-supply plan. A popular location for organized sports, it'll be closed through summer 2013. The way Debra Katz, acting communications manager with the Utilities Department, describes it, the park "is about to undergo major 'internal surgery' followed by a complete head-to-toe makeover." The Emergency Water Supply and Storage Project was approved by Palo Alto voters in 2007 and will provide enough water to meet basic needs for the entire city in the event of an earthquake or other emergency that cuts off normal water supply from the Hetch-Hetchy aqueduct system. El Camino Park is located at 100 El Camino Real, across from the Stanford Shopping Center.