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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Two local youth are a few official steps away from having their names and hands entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for longest handshake. On Tuesday, Aug. 31,Woodbury High School juniors Nathan Herzberg and Kyle Swanson unofficially broke the world for the world's longest hand shake of 10 hours. "I'm so unbelievably excited right now," Herzberg said. "I can't believe we actually pulled it off." Herzberg and Swanson decided to break the record for handshaking because they said they have a habit of handshaking and they were curious to see what the world record was.
Hundreds of people came out last weekend, Aug. 28-30, to enjoy all of the fun festivities during Woodbury Days. Woodbury Days offered fun entertainment for everyone of all ages, whether it was the family fun at the carnival, making friends with some animals at the petting zoo, visiting the many community businesses at the business fair, playing a few hands in the bingo tent, enjoying the parade, or even just relaxing on the grass with some delicious food from the Taste of Woodbury.
In recent months, some residents of Afton have had to say farewell to their feline friends a bit sooner than they should have because of the animal control laws in Afton. During the Afton City Council workshop last month, council members discussed possible changes to their animal control ordinance and implementing some new programs.
A group of local kids met some of their neighbors, Aug. 10-13, during the Woodbury Parks and Recreation Department's Minnesota Wildlife camp. "A lot of kids know about all of the cool exotic animals, but they don't know about the really cool animals that are right in their backyard," said Sue Dahl, a naturalist from the Dodge Nature Center. The Minnesota Wildlife camp was cooperative effort between Woodbury Parks and Recreation, as well as the Dodge Nature Center, in St. Paul, as a way to connect children to nature in an introductory way.
Minnesota is no stranger to being in the Hollywood spotlight -- Juno, Fargo, North Country and Prairie Home Companion. One local film student will be hoping to join the ranks of Minnesotans in movie stardom with a new movie he is directing and producing called "My Senior Year." "My Senior Year" is a comedy/romance/drama that tells the story of Brian, a boy who has been home schooled his entire life by his truck driver father, but one day decides that he wants to try going to a public high school and try being a normal kid.
Planning in Afton has always been a difficult and touchy subject, but it's about to get a bit more challenging now that the council has decided to terminate their contract with its city planner, Chuck Marohn, and Community Growth Institute. The Afton City Council discussed the termination of the contract during its Aug. 18 meeting. "I think we should start the wheels moving -- he's too expensive," Afton City Council member Peg Nolz said.
Jillian Messina has been an active member of the St. Paul-based youth circus school, Circus Juventas, as a contortionist for the last two years, but as of Aug. 19 that has changed. On Aug. 16, at around 10 p.m., during Circus Juventas' final performance of their sold out summer show the risers holding more than 400 people collapsed. Seven people were taken to the hospital for injuries. No one was severely injured. City officials ordered the school to be closed on Aug. 19 until inspections can be made into the accident and the structure.
It was a night at the movies for Woodbury families on Friday, Aug. 15 at Ojibway Park. For the second annual "Movies in the Park", co-sponsored by the Woodbury Parks and Recreation Department, the Woodbury Rotary Club and M & I Bank, hundreds of families gathered together with their blankets and pillows to enjoy "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" under the stars. "It's just a great family event," said Lynne Buchana, a customer service representative from M & I Bank.
Woodbury has its own young prodigy in Prithwis Mukhopadhyay. Mukhopadhyay, 16, a junior at Woodbury High School, has become well known in and outside of Woodbury when it comes to excelling in science and research at such a young age. Mukhopadhyay has received numerous awards and recognitions for his many accomplishments. This summer alone Mukhopadhyay has spent 605 hours at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center located at the University of Illinois-Chicago, for his most recent research project, which hopes to prove the cancer-causing effects of a commonly used food additive.
The Woodbury Heritage Society has worked tirelessly to preserve Woodbury's roots with the preservation of Woodbury's oldest, and only, marker tree. "This is the last one we know of in Woodbury that was used as a marker tree -- most of the other ones either died or were cut down," said Wayne Schilling, vice president of the Woodbury Heritage Society.