Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.
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With spring in full bloom, communities lining the Lower St. Croix River -- Afton in particular -- are awaiting an expected surge in tourism that is approaching. These same communities, however, are also anticipating some problems looming on the horizon for the scenic waterway. The Lower St. Croix River has been placed on the "American Rivers' 2009 Most Endangered" list, a designation due to recent developments in the river communities.
In these trying times everybody is trying to pinch their pennies, and one of the ways to save money that is repeatedly overlooked is consignment shopping. In the past, consignment shopping for "used" clothing has developed a sort of stereotype of being "low class" or "troubled." But Woodbury resident Kelly Stransky is working hard to dispel that myth with her store "Upscale Consignment." Upscale Consignment is located at 2170 Eagle Creek Lane in Woodbury. "There is a difference between a thrift store and a consignment store," she said.
The Afton City Council approved a change to the makeup of the planning commission at its April 21 meeting when they approved an amendment to the ordinance to change the requirement for a member of the business community to simply an "at-large" representative. Council member Peg Nolz first made this proposal at the council's Feb. 17 meeting when they were appointing the new members to the planning commission.
It's that time of year again, when District 833 families get the chance to taste a bit of everything South Washington County has to offer. The South Washington County Schools Education Foundation's Taste of South Washington County Extravaganza will come to Woodbury High School on May 5. "We really want to not only raise funds for the Education Foundation, but also be an opportunity to build a sense of community," foundation executive director Patti Bitney Starke said. The Taste of South Washington County Extravaganza was started in 1998 when the education foundation was born.
If you're a witch, you would be wise to stay away from Woodbury High School on April 30-May 2 because you may just get swept up into a witch hunt. WHS will be presenting "The Crucible," Arthur Miller's Tony Award-winning drama about the Puritan purge of witchcraft in old Salem during the famous Salem witch trials. For the detailed feature story and photos about the WHS production of "The Crucible," see the April 29 Woodbury Bulletin.
Pets are always there for their owners, but now they need someone to be there for them. Over the last year, the number of pets having to be surrendered to the Animal Humane Society or rescue organizations has skyrocketed because of inabilities to care fully for their families, let alone their pets, in the poor economy. This is why AllBreed Obedience and Behavioral School has started a food drive to help collect pet food to donate to both Christian Cupboard and the White Bear Lake Area Food Shelf.
Families came out in full force for the Liberty Ridge Elementary and Royal Oaks elementary school carnivals held on April 18. Both carnivals offered a lot of the same fun for its students, including a variety of carnivals games with prizes, an assortment of food, moon bounces, silent auctions and face painting. For the detailed feature story and photos from the two schools' carnivals, see the April 22 Woodbury Bulletin.
The Afton City Council has ended their relationship with both SEH and Jensen, Bell, Converse and Erickson PA when the council approved plans to hire two consultants, city attorney and city engineer, at a special meeting on April 20. Hiring of the new consultants is contingent upon acceptance of the positions. Frederic W. "Fritz" Knaak of Knaak & Kantrud P.A.. will be replacing Mitch Converse as city attorney, whereas Diane Hankee of WSB & Associates will replace John Perotti as city engineer. Knaak is currently the city attorney in Newport and Hankee is the city engineer for Grant.
Valley Crossing Community School second grade students welcomed home Tech Sgt. John McCoy from Iraq when he visited the Woodbury school April 8. Beginning last October, the students sent letters and care packages to McCoy in Iraq during his deployment there with the U.S. Air Force. McCoy spoke to classes about his experiences and expressed his greatest thanks for the gifts he had received. The idea for the project was suggested by a parent of one of the students, who is a relative of McCoy.
Colombian-born Detective John Santana from St. Paul is hot on the trail of an assassin who killed two prominent leaders of St. Paul's Hispanic community -- the owner of the largest Hispanic newspaper in the Midwest and a prominent immigration lawyer, both of whom were born in Mexico. This is the setup for "White Tombs," the debut novel from Woodbury author Christopher Valen, who's real name is Jerry Peterson. "White Tombs" is the first in a series about Santana. The majority of the book takes place in St. Paul's West Side.