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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During the Oct. 20 meeting of the Afton city council, the city council discussed how to replace retiring office manager Connie Slaten. Slaten gave her resignation Oct. 8. The personnel committee, made up of council members Peg Nolz and Joe Richter, suggested to the council advertising for a part-time "deputy clerk," rather than a 30-hours per week office manager position. Depending on what applications they receive, the city may also look at either a second deputy clerk or an office assistant position.
By this time next month, the Cedar Bluff saga will be at an end, maybe. During the Oct. 20 meeting, the Afton City Council received at update on the current status of the project in terms of where it stands with the Minnesota Land Trust. The Minnesota Land Trust gave their conditional approval of the amended development on Oct. 8. "This is hopefully very near to the end of the Cedar bluff saga," said city attorney Fritz Knaak.
The controversy surrounding the infamous stealth tower in Afton could finally be put to sleep now that the tower as been certified to meet all of the conditions of its conditional use permit. The mono-pine was approved in May of 2008 and was erected last winter in the Afton Hills neighborhood. During the Oct. 20 Afton City Council meeting, council members received a presentation from staff, and the Washington County Sheriff's Department, that the public safety radio communications tower has passed final review by staff and the city's building inspector.
The Afton City Council was set to discuss a revised ordinance and contracts for animal control at its Oct. 20, but decided to move the item to work session so council members could have more time to review the materials. The issue surrounding animal control in Afton was first raised back in June by several concerned residents who have had bad experiences with their family cats being euthanized because they were deemed to be feral by the Animal Humane Society.
The Afton City Council has acknowledged its mistake in putting out a request for proposals for an infrastructure study and decided during its Oct. 20 meeting to take a different approach "I think we should take a different course of action," said city administrator Jim Norman. The request for proposals state the reason to move forward with the study is to determine whether or not it would be feasible to develop a municipal wastewater service since on-site systems may not provide the high-degree treatment required to ensure that the groundwater and surface water are no adversely impacted.
One more name will be added to the Tuesday, Nov. 3 District 833 School Board election, sort of. Current school board member Denise Kapler has started a write-in campaign for re-election. Kapler chose not to file for re-election earlier this fall. But over the last several weeks, Kapler, who was first elected to the school board in 2001, said she began to hear from supporters who encouraged her to start a write-in campaign. "People are asking me to step up to the plate to help -- they were telling me 'We need you to step up, we need your voice,'" Kapler said.
Halloween is fast approaching and that means it will soon be time for Halloween parties complete with delicious goodies and fun games. For some Woodbury High School students, though, it means a chance to help someone in need. The Community Outreach class at WHS will be hosting a fundraiser called "Zombie Mayhem," on Oct. 30 as a way to raise money for a Royal Oaks Elementary student who has muscular dystrophy.
Two high schools in Woodbury will be staging musicals this fall...on the same weekends. Woodbury High School will be producing "The Music Man" and East Ridge High School will be producing "Seussical: The Musical." Both shows open Friday, Nov. 6. Making the "Music Man" WHS theater director Karen Seashore said the school's theater program chose "The Music Man" because it's a classic play that everyone knows. "I thought it was well suited for the students we have, and we have a lot of new students trying out for the first time this year" Seashore said.
Parents of students at Bailey Elementary are hoping to provide an upgrade to their kids playground equipment. "Recess Rocks" is a campaign started by the Bailey Elementary PTA which aims to raise money to purchase a new playground, while encouraging more active children in school and at home. "Kids love to play and it's an important part of their education," PTA member Susan Trapp said.
During Afton City Council meetings, council member Joe Richter said he tries to be a down to earth guy with his feet planted firmly on the ground. But away from city hall, Richter often has his head in the clouds... as a commercial airplane pilot. "All pilots will say they enjoy that aspect of leaving the ground -- kind of the three-dimensional feel you get," said Richter who captains international flights for Delta/Northwest Airlines.