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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Afton's legal fees associated with the GJ&M lawsuit are starting to pile up, but this may not be the end of the issue. One of developer Gordy Jarvis' attorneys, Daniel J. Cragg said that GJ&M is currently seeking a new trial based on the judge's ruling regarding the damages and jury instruction. During the jury trial, which concluded Dec. 8 at the Washington County Courthouse, Judge Mary Hannon ruled that GJ&M did not present enough sufficient evidence to show that the city was liable for the actions of its employees. Therefore Hannon dismissed all of Jarvis' $6 million in damage claims.
Editor's note: The Woodbury Bulletin plans to follow up with several of the volunteers about their experiences in Haiti. Eleven volunteers from Five Oaks Community Church who were in Haiti on a mission trip to assist with an orphanage project are back home and safe with their families after the 7.0 earthquake hit the country Jan. 12. Three of the volunteers are from Woodbury -- Jeff Schwartz and Mike and Jan Mularoni. One volunteer is from Cottage Grove -- Adan Casas. They returned home Jan. 15. "We were very concerned right from the start," Pastor Henry Williams said.
Gordy and Kathy Jarvis bought a rundown hotel 33 years ago. The electrical work was shot, the plumbing was broken and there were leaks in the roof. But after more than three decades of blood, sweat and tears the Jarvises, who live in Lakeland, have turned the Afton House Inn into the oldest operating hotel in Minnesota and one of the state's top-ranked destinations. For their efforts and the Afton House Inn's impact on the hospitality industry the Jarvises were inducted into the Minnesota Restaurant's Hospitality Hall of Fame Nov. 23 at Jax Café in Minneapolis.
A group of Woodbury High School students are working to save the world -- with fashion. "Schools for Schools," a WHS club which is an off-shoot of the organization "Invisible Children," will be hosting a charity fashion show Jan. 30 in the school cafeteria at a cost of $5. All proceeds from the fashion show will be donated to Gulu Secondary, the WHS sister school, in Uganda. "What we do is try to bring awareness about the war going on in Uganda," Chelsea Williams, a member of Schools for Schools, said.
The District 833 high school theater programs started out the year with dueling musicals opening the same weekend, but now the three theater programs will unite to showcase their one act plays. A one-act play festival showcasing the Woodbury, Park and East Ridge high school one-act plays -- "Crimes of the Heart," "Flaming Idiots," and "Dracula" will be held Jan. 20 on the Loft Stage at ERHS. "One acts are actually notorious for not being very well attended to be honest since they are shortened versions," said ERHS one act director Katie Carlson.
Editor's Note: The Woodbury Bulletin will be running features on all Woodbury Chamber of Commerce award recipients throughout the month of January. When Nick George was a college student at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse, he had every intention of studying to become a personal trainer. His plans changed after he took an introductory science class. A few of George's friends had taken a challenging biology course and George, who always likes a challenge, decided to take the class and passed with flying colors.
If you're an aspiring musician with dreams of being a famous guitarist and songwriter, then East Ridge High School's "Guitar and Songwriting Club" is a good place to start. English teacher Bill Barr, a professional songwriter, said he founded the club because he thinks students should have the opportunity to be exposed to the guitar and songwriting since it can be such a valuable experience. "I just wanted to get students interested in just learning the guitar, and just get them interested and motivated to start up with that," Barr said.
A group of students at Woodbury Middle School are trying to prove the term "going green" is for all ages. The new after-school "Eco Club" introduces students to service learning and the environmental stewardship through a variety of projects and activities.
District 833 school buses became victims of frigid temperatures Monday morning, Jan. 4, when 12 of its school buses failed to start after sitting dormant since Dec. 22. However, the district was only short five buses since the district has seven backup buses. As a result of the start up failures, 11 bus routes were affected.
Are you smarter than a fifth grader? That's the question that Teresa Campbell's fifth grade Gateway students at Bailey Elementary want to know. Campbell's fifth grade students were chosen to film commercials for the local CW Twin Cities network where they asked the bonus question for the television show "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?" on Dec. 15. Campbell said she had heard from a friend about the opportunity to nominate a student, or a whole class, to film a commercial that would air during the game show, so Campbell decided to nominate her 23-student class.