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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After five years, numerous extensions and countless delays, work will soon begin at Afton's first-ever clustered housing development, Cedar Bluff Homestead. Afton City Council received an update on the project during its July 19 meeting.
There's a new face in the leopard's den at Lake Middle School. Last week, Rick Wippler began his position as interim principal. Wippler comes aboard after former principal Todd Hochman left for a job as assistant principal at Park High School. District 833 School Board approved Wippler's contract, lasting through June 30 of next year, during its July 21 meeting. "I'm excited about being at Lake," Wippler said of the school, home of the Leopards. Wippler began his career in education in 1974 as an English and American history teacher in Lake City.
Flooding downtown might be just a distant memory for Afton. Afton City Council entered into a grant agreement July 19 with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for a flood mitigation grant. Afton began discussions about levee and drainage improvements about a year ago when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers informed the city it had to make improvements to its existing levee to continue in its flood program. Improvements that need to be made include: culvert repair, drainage, easements, grading, brushing and the removal of pipes are used for pumping.
One of the pillars of the Woodbury Fire Department died this month. Ray Southward, 79, died July 17 at Woodwinds Health Campus. A Woodbury fire truck led the way to the cemetery during July 20 funeral ceremonies. "People really liked him," his widow, Elaine Southward, said. Southward was born in 1931 at Mounds Park Hospital in St. Paul. He was the youngest of seven children. Southward married Elaine Cihlar on June 20, 1953, at Zion Lutheran Church in Anoka. In 1958, they moved to Woodbury from St. Paul. The Southwards had four children.
New Life Academy sophomore Alex Amble has spent his life playing piano. Last weekend, that devotion led Amble, 15, to the streets of St. Paul, where he traversed 20 artist-painted pianos on display for "Pianos on Parade." Pianos on Parade has placed 20 pianos -- each transformed by a Twin Cities artist -- throughout the city, where they're available for the public to play. "They're painted these bright beautiful colors," said Woodbury resident Lynne Thornsjo. "It's fun." The project's sponsor, Keys 4/4 Kids, is a non-profit organization in St.
Editor's note: This is part of an occasional series on teachers' unique summer plans. East Ridge High School English teacher Katie Carlson got a taste of three diverse cultures this summer when she traveled to Paris, Rome and Israel. Carlson said the trip, which lasted from June 13 to July 1, came together after she and her husband decided to take their belated honeymoon to Paris and Rome. "It's basically been three years in the making," she said. Israel came into the mix since Carlson has family there. And since they had never been, it seemed like a good time to visit.
Growing up, Lauren, Torie and Ali Redpath could always be found singing. "Our mom taught us all how to sing at a young age," Lauren said. "We grew up learning to sing together." Years later, the three women joined forces and formed a band together -- Redpath. Lauren, of Stillwater, is the oldest of the sisters. Torie, of Woodbury, is the trio's middle sister, and Ali, of White Bear Lake, is the youngest. "Singing with my sisters was really rewarding," Torie said.
Afton Planning Commission appears not to see eye to eye with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in terms of vegetative cutting. Planning Commission discussed a proposed vegetative cutting ordinance during its July 11 meeting. Recently Lakeland, a neighboring community of Afton, passed a vegetative ordinance. The DNR presented that ordinance to Afton for consideration. "The DNR thinks Lakeland has the Bible on clear cutting ordinances," Planning Commission chairwoman Barb Ronningen said.
As Minnesota begins to emerge from its budget crisis, it's time for District 834 to turn to its own operating costs. For the past few months, District 834 School Board has been discussing the 2012-13 budget concerns. "We do need to make some changes in efficiencies and be more innovative," Superintendent Corey Lunn said.
While Hogwarts and Harry Potter were on the minds of many last week, students in District 833 Community Education's "Wizards of Worldly Places" summer camp were mixing up some magic of their own -- but with a twist. Even though the "Wizards of Worldly Places" has students learning magic tricks, solving word and picture puzzles and making potions -- all the while earning their wand, hat, cauldron, crystal ball and spell book -- the twist is that they are doing it all the while speaking Spanish or Chinese.