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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TThe talk of the town down in Afton right now is the possibility of becoming a charter city. On the one side you have the Afton Charter Commission who was responsible for drafting the charter. On the other side you have the Concerned Afton Citizens group who adamantly opposes the document and the prospect of Afton becoming a charter city. "Naturally there's always going to be two sides," Charter Commission vice chair Kate McGinn said. "We knew a group would come out of the woodwork to defeat the charter." The proposed Afton City Charter was approved earlier this summer.
Brenda Stanton is busy during the work week as a paraprofessional at Pine Hill Elementary in Cottage Grove. But when away from the school, Stanton can be found experimenting in her kitchen. The Woodbury resident runs a business, Driving Force Energy Co., that sells all-natural energy bars and gourmet popcorn. This isn't your ordinary butter lover's special or kettle corn. Stanton's flavors are what some might call eclectic, for popcorn anyway: blueberry, chocolate, peanut butter, peppermint, jalapeno, strawberry, rhubarb, caramel and even spicy habanera.
Former Afton interim city administrator Jim Norman appeared in Freboorn County District Court for a hearing regarding the allegations against him that he abused a city-issued credit card in his new position as city manager of Albert Lea. Norman, who began his position in Albert Lea on May 3, was placed on administrative leave at the end of August, however Norman announced his resignation, as part of a separation agreement with the city, this week. Prior to starting in Albert Lea, Norman had worked in Afton for two years.
The Afton City Council is getting closer to bringing more park land to the city. The Afton City Council discussed its park dedication ordinance at a work session on Sept. 20. The City Council first began discussing possible updates to its current park dedication ordinance last month when Mayor Pat Snyder raised the possibility of revising the ordinance. Currently, the park dedication ordinance states that residential properties must pay $3,806, per dwelling unit, to the park dedication fund and commercial and industrial properties pay $1,500 per acre.
Clare Odin and Jessica Schrimp are proud Girl Scouts. Both have been involved with the organization most of their young lives. "Girl scouts is just a great opportunity for girls to get together," said Odin, a senior at the Perpich Center for the Arts. The teens have climbed their way to the top of the Girl Scouts ranks and recently received their Gold Award for a project they completed with Woodbury Senior Living. Their project, "Generation Jam," bring young musicians into the nursing home to volunteer and perform for the residents.
The concrete controversy that has plagued one downtown Afton business has ceased. The Afton City Council approved a proposal from Swirl Wine Bar in regards to its impervious surface area. In July, the city sent a letter to Dave Jarvis, who manages Swirl, and mandated that the newly poured concrete be removed because it exceeds the allowable impervious surface area. Back in July, the city had issued an order to Swirl Wine Bar, which is owned by the Afton House Inn, that it must take out its newly pour patio since it exceeded the allowable amount of impervious surface area.
The issues surrounding Afton's 2008 Comprehensive Plan just keep multiplying. During a Sept. 20 work session, the Afton City Council discussed the status of the comp plan and how to proceed.
Many recent college students make the decision to travel the world after graduation, but Woodbury native Addie Weaver will be taking that idea even further. Weaver, 24, will be traveling to 11 countries, in 11 months, with the World Race. The World Race is a mission trip with Adventures in Missions. "I just really felt a call to do something more," Weaver said. "I want to travel and I want to help people." Weaver will be leaving for her 11-month adventure, with 65 other missionaries, on Oct.
Afton Art in the Park is back again for another year. Organizers hope this year's event will be bigger than the previous. The 32nd annual fall season event, put together by the Afton Area Business Association, will be held Sept. 25-26 in Afton Town Square Park. This year's festival will be a little different than previous years in that the event has joined forces with a variety of different art fairs in the area. Stillwater-based non-profit organization, ArtReach St.
It's a dog eat dog world. But all Mille Porsild wants is a home for her dogs. Porsild, an Afton resident, has applied for a conditional-use permit to construct a private dog kennel to house 19 sled dogs. Porsild's application was discussed during the Sept. 13 Afton Planning Commission meeting.