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OUR VIEW: Every week, history is in the making

As we reflect on 2016 and welcome 2017, it's the making of history that comes to mind.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Woodbury's incorporation, we've been reminded by city officials and the Woodbury Community Foundation, sponsoring organization for an upcoming city celebration.

This week, with our advertisers' support, your local newspaper begins an ambitious attempt to get a grip on some pieces of our town's history — a series of stories about the history of Woodbury through the eyes of the businesses and nonprofit organizations that help make it great.

The series is called Making History in Woodbury.

Every week, from 1967-2017, history has been in the making. Today, reporters and editors of the Woodbury Bulletin are fully aware that they are writing history as it happens. But readers and writers alike can rarely claim to know which stories will be the ones lucky enough to live on and become truly historic. It takes years until we can give the proper amount of retrospect due to a story that will in time be noted as historic.

Woodbury's top stories of the past year and our votes as most likely to be historic:

• Alleged human trafficking — The story of Lili Huang, accused of enslaving, starving and beating her children's nanny, has drawn nationwide attention. Huang is being prosecuted in U.S. District Court, with a parallel case in Washington County District Court. Will the outcome of this case deter future traffickers?

• Prostitution — Ongoing cases of prostitution in Woodbury and the surrounding area continue to be cause for concern. As defendants made various court appearances, one particular sting that occurred at the Red Roof Inn has stayed fresh in readers' minds. The County Attorney's Office has been inundated with cases as prosecutors and police go after the so-called "little guy" while holding prostitutes harmless as victims. Can the approach prove fruitful in cutting off demand and continue to result in jail time for pimps?

• Suppliers of drugs to our kids — 17-year-old Tara Fitzgerald died Jan. 11, 2014, of a synthetic drug she thought was LSD. Authorities tracked the drug to not only their distributors but also their source. Despite thorough police work and prosecution in court, how can Fitzgerald's family find closure and how can the decisions of Fitzgerald and other Woodbury High School students be used for good?

• Gold Line bus-rapid transit — Like it or not, it appears the Gold Line bus-rapid transit line will be developed with an ending point in Woodbury. What was once known as the Gateway Corridor seems likely to grow in transit options. Will the influx of buses create jobs and commerce, and might it ease the hiring process for local businesses because of the increased accessibility?

• Continued business development — TRIA Orthopaedic Center, Verizon Wireless, Bank of America, Café Zupas, Qdoba Mexican Grill, Pie Five Pizza Co., CycleBar, Wedding Day Diamonds, Caribou Coffee & Einstein Bagels, Naf Naf Grill, Chuck & Don's, Mattress Firm, Potbelly Sandwich Shop, Tu Nails, Portillo's, Sur La Table, Piada, Residence Inn, and Whole Foods broke ground in 2016, and another Marriott and other developments won't be far behind. Are more offices coming soon to CityPlace, to support the town's newest retail businesses?

• Redevelopment and expansion — Other redevelopment and expansion opportunities along Woodbury's two main roads — interstates 94 and 494 — seem sure to materialize. Just as the land vacated by State Farm Insurance was repurposed to great enthusiasm in CityPlace, a new movie theater proposed at Woodbury Lakes shopping center. Where is the next big change expected?

• Costco — This development, which is under construction near the intersection of Weir Drive and Tamarack Road, gets its own mention because of just how long the town has waited for the wholesaler's arrival. Few stories have piqued the interest of readers like Costco. What will the spin-off development look like?

• Schools and technology — District 833 has stepped closer to a 1-to-1 technology initiative. Soon to be answered: Will it prove cost effective in terms of the best way to educate our children?

• Elections — For the most part, and except for a few newbies filling vacant seats, incumbents ruled in the 2016 local, county and state elections. Are we already heading in the right direction, and will the expression of voters' confidence in the status quo be rewarded?

One year's big news doesn't promise it will measure up in the eyes of next year's historians.

There are myriad stories that make up our history, not just the earth-shattering ones that happen so infrequently. Little people, bygone businesses, even schools come and go, but they each leave an impact. Big or little, your story adds to the makeup of our town. You've helped set the stage for history.

What will Woodbury be like 50 years from now?

Starting this week, take a look back. Start a journey into the history of your hometown.

Receive guidance for the future from the mistakes and successes of Woodbury's past. Understand where we're going by paying credence to where we've been. Develop a vision for your role in Woodbury.

Woodbury's is a short but storied history.

You have a hand in it.

Week one of the Bulletin's Making History in Woodbury series is a fitting start, with the Woodbury Community Foundation taking center stage.

For the rest of the year, your local newspaper will detail pieces of Woodbury's history. Climb in the sidecar. Enjoy the ride. Then slip into the driver's seat and get involved.

For more information, contact Laurie Levine at llevine@rivertowns.net or 651-319-4513.

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