Around Town | July 5, 2019 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - July 5, 2019

Around Town

GET'CHA HEAD IN THE GAME ... The power of social networking brought together a class of rising fourth-graders and a local board-game maker at Ohlone Elementary School, where they're having fun in the classroom while sharpening their math and language-arts skills. Ohlone co-teachers Michelle Yee and Cathy Harkness understood the importance of stepping away from traditional methods of teaching summer school so that the students learn different subjects through hands-on applications. Through NextDoor.com, a social-networking service for neighborhoods, Harkness found 23-year-old board-game maker Justin Leong. The Mountain View resident spoke to the kids about the various stages of creating a game, including identifying resources for the game and coming up with the rules. The students absorbed his information and spent a week collecting game tokens, spinners, cards and boards from donated games in order to make their own. Through creating the games, the students were able to learn multiplication by having to deal with scores and play money and practice their language arts skills by writing out the rules for their games and reading them to their peers, among other lessons. "He inspired me to try and make games," student Genesis Suarez said of Leong. She added that she hopes to see her creation sold at Walmart one day. Leong had the chance to "play test" the students' games and was blown away by the kids' imaginations.

ON TO BIGGER THINGS ... Former Palo Alto City Auditor Harriett Richardson is coming out of retirement to become BART's first inspector general, the regional transit agency announced June 21. Appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Richardson will be responsible for planning, directing and managing "the independent oversight of all District actives and operations to ensure the effective use of resources and compliance with applicable federal and state laws." Richardson retired from the city on Feb. 15 after nearly five years. Her departure was one of many recent high-profile vacancies at City Hall. The city has yet to name her successor. Before working in Palo Alto, Richardson was San Francisco's audit director and the audit manager/deputy director at Berkeley's Auditor's Office. "The appointment of Ms. Richardson as BART's new inspector general helps BART reach a new level of transparency and accountability to the riding public and the taxpayers who fund the cost of BART infrastructure and operations," BART Board District 1 Director Debora Allen said in a statement. The position was approved by voters in June 2018 through Regional Measure 3, which raises tolls at seven state bridges in the Bay Area by three $1 increases (the first hike took place on Jan. 1, the next two raises are set for 2022 and 2025). An estimated $4.5 billion raised from the toll fees have been earmarked for transportation improvements. Richardson, who was one of three nominees following a nationwide search, will receive an annual salary of $205,000.

STAYING FRESH ... The Peninsula is rapidly turning into a destination for food, a reality that the San Mateo County Silicon Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau is embracing through this year's "As Fresh As It Gets" awards, which covers establishments in San Mateo County and Palo Alto. The 2019-20 recipients recognize businesses that deliver local fresh produce and seafood, plus wine and beer. To qualify for the award, applicants were required to buy locally grown or caught items for at least a month and sign a commitment to continue the practice. Palo Alto had four winners on the list: The Sea by Alexander's Steakhouse (a traditional award winner) and Dinah's Poolside Restaurant, St. Michael's Alley and Vina Enoteca (gold award winners). East Palo Alto's Quattro Restaurant & Bar was one of 10 establishments to join the platinum award circle. The winners were recognized at an awards ceremony on June 20. They each received a certificate, plaque to display in their business, a commemorative polo shirt and commendations from local, state and federal government officials.

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