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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Some people may think 1950s horror and science fiction movies belong on "Mystery Science Theater 3000," but Woodbury resident Josh Craig has spent his much life recreating what he felt made those "B movies" great. "The acting isn't so great, the effects are laughable and they're just so much fun," Craig said.
Afton's Fourth of July parade has earned a reputation for its traditional and festive atmosphere, but the parade had rather humble beginnings. The community held its inaugural Fourth of July parade at the turn of the century, but another one wasn't held for many years, according to officials at the Afton Historical Society. "That kind of died on the vine," said Stan Ross, the AHS president. Ross has been an Afton resident for nearly 58 years, so he remembers clearly the year the current Fourth of July parade made its debut in 1975.
When Meridith Henke was younger she enjoyed listening to her mother Joy's assortment of instrumental CDs. One instrument stood out among them all -- the harp. When Meridith was six years old, she went to a concert at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis where there was a harpist featured. She said she immediately fell in love. "I saw the harp there and it was just this beautiful instrument and it sounded amazing," said Meridith, now 13. "I just fell in love and I knew that was the instrument for me.
In addition to approving its first ever wind energy ordinance on June 15, the Afton City Council also voted to approve its first ever wind turbine. The council voted 3-1 at its most recent meeting to approve an application by Alida Messinger to erect a 100-foot wind turbine on her Stagecoach Trail property. The new wind energy ordinance isn't law yet, it needs to be published. As such the development application was filed under the old ordinance governing structures.
In the heart of the Afton's Old Village is a getaway for those who just a want a little pampering. The Calla Lily Day Spa has been a staple in Afton for the past 10 years. "This is just a sanctuary for your body and your mind to regroup and just to get away," owner Michelle Hovde said. "But a lot of people in Afton drive by and don't even know we're here." The Calla Lily offers a variety of services including massages, facials, body wraps and waxing. "We ensure that they come here and it's all about them." Hovde, of River Falls, said.
"Kiwanis" is American Indian for "to share" or "to build" and those are the driving principles of the Kiwanis Club. The Kiwanis Club is a service organization that has 650,000 members around the world in over 8,000 clubs. The first Kiwanis club was started in 1918. Woodbury has its own club that has been active since October 2006 when members from other clubs chartered a Woodbury chapter. "We think globally, but act locally," said Jim Malkowski, who is a member of the Woodbury Area Kiwanis Club and the West St. Paul Kiwanis Club.
The Afton 2008 Comprehensive Plan is still at a standstill as the Afton City Council waits on city planner Chuck Marohn. "It's not our fault we haven't finished the comp plan yet," Mayor Pat Snyder said during the City Council's June 15 meeting. Council members discussed how to proceed with the city's comp plan that the Metropolitan Council has deemed incomplete.
Over the last year, East Ridge High School received considerable attention as the new kid on the block, but it wasn't the only new horizon in District 833. This school year saw the switch from a junior high school model to a middle school. Woodbury Middle School (formerly Woodbury Junior High) has been on board from day one, said principal Kari Lopez. "It's been a great experience, it's been absolutely fabulous," Woodbury Middle School principal Kari Lopez said.
The South Washington County School District went through a number of shifts and transitions this year -- a new high school, new start times, new boundaries, shifting from a junior high model to a middle school model and adding freshmen to the high schools -- but the changes aren't quite finished yet. District 833 high schools will be undergoing one more change, albeit a minimal change, next year by switching from a four-period block schedule to a six-period day.
Moms are frequent staples at elementary school events and classroom visits. But what about the other important member of the family -- the dads? A recent initiative at Woodbury Elementary is giving fathers a chance to get involved at their children's schools. It's called "All Pro Dad." The group recently held a breakfast at the school. "It's a chance for dads to get involved with the school," said John Flavin, a Woodbury Elementary first grade teacher.