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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So maybe there was no snow. But all the other winter wonderland elements were in effect as Afton's downtown district held a holiday celebration over the weekend. The Afton Area Business Association sponsored the "Afton Village Holiday," which included a variety of holiday activities for every age. Some of the activities included during the weekend were horse and wagon rides, holiday crafts, breakfast with Santa Claus, holiday shopping and holiday treats.
Winter finally made its way to Woodbury Tuesday, Dec. 8 with about a half foot of snowfall recorded in the area. The National Weather Service included communities in District 833 in a winter storm warning Wednesday, but that wasn't quite enough for school officials to call a snow day. The last time District 833 closed schools due to weather conditions was last January when the schools closed for two days because of frigid temperatures, not snowfall.
The six-day trial of GJ&M Development Inc. v. Afton has reached its end, with the jury reaching a verdict in favor of the city. Following the afternoon break during Monday's trial, Afton's attorney made a motion to dismiss the plaintiff's claims since they felt that they did not present substantial evidence to prove their case. Judge Mary Hannon made a judgment for a matter of law in favor of the city and threw out all of the constitutional claims, thus eliminating the damage claims. Jarvis was claiming over $5 million in damages. The jury only made a ruling on the statutory claims.
The case of GJ&M Development Inc. v. Afton continued Thursday, Dec. 3 at the Washington County Courthouse in Stillwater and will continue into next week. Judge Mary Hannon is hearing the case. During week Gordy Jarvis' attorneys in the case questioned several witnesses in the case including former Mayor David Engstrom, Jarvis' investors, financial experts and Jarvis himself. The initial lawsuit between Afton and GJ&M was filed in 2007 by developer Gordy Jarvis, who claims that a moratorium on downtown development, which stopped his proposed Afton Center project, was illegally executed.
Quidditch at East Ridge High School? That's correct. A small group of East Ridge students are attempting to form an after-school club that will take up the make-believe sport featured in the popular "Harry Potter" novel and film series. The students hosted an informational meeting on their new quidditch club Wednesday, Dec. 2.
They may still be in high school but District 833 student representatives make an impact with the South Washington County School Board. The three representatives -- senior Rachel Haile from Woodbury High School, junior Vincent Bedard from East Ridge High School and Sam Arnal from Park High School -- attend the monthly school board meetings and give updates and reports about what is on the minds of students -- whether it's issues or concerns in the school, upcoming events or just a general thank you.
One of the biggest thorns in Afton's side -- its lawsuit with GJ&M -- could be resolved this week. The case of GJ&M Development Inc. v. Afton began Monday, Nov. 30 at the Washington County Courthouse in Stillwater. Judge Mary Hannon heard the case. The initial lawsuit between Afton and GJ&M was filed in 2007 by developer Gordy Jarvis, who claims that a moratorium on downtown development, which stopped his proposed Afton Center project, was illegally executed.
Every family has a history. Every family has a heritage. Every family has stories that make them who they are. For Afton resident Diane Dettman, her family's history became the basis for her book "Miriam daughter of Finnish immigrants." "I didn't know that much about my own family until I actually did this project," she said. "Miriam" tells the story of Dettman's grandparents who emigrated from Finland to Babbit, Minn., and how they lived with seven children during the Great Depression through a series of short stories and vignettes.
A cat wandered into Afton City Hall during the Afton City Council meeting last week. Coincidentally, or not, the council voted on several new animal control issues relating to cats. During the Nov. 17 meeting the city council approved several changes to their animal control ordinances including approval of a new impound facility, approval of a cat licensing policy and approval of a trap/neuter/release program.
Who exactly are middle school students? They're not quite high school students but they're not elementary students either. How do they live life in middle school? These are just a few of the questions the Lake Middle School theater showcase participants are trying to answer with their performance of "Who We Are." The performances, held Nov. 12-13, included several short skits and pieces that were created by the students themselves. "It was the theme of what it's like to be us," said theater director Robin Bartell.