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 city attorney Fritz Knaak may have his work cut out for him in Afton, but there is another case currently commanding his attention -- Minnesota's U.S. Senate recount. Knaak, of the law firm Knaak and Kantrud PA, and a Vadnais Heights resident, is one of several attorneys working on Republican Sen. Norm Coleman's case against Democratic contender Al Franken. Both Coleman's and Franken's points of view are scheduled to be heard in the Minnesota Supreme Court on Monday, June 1. "It's about as important of a case that will be heard in the Supreme Court," Knaak said.
Sixth grade students at Valley Crossing Community School looked to the future on May 18 when they talked with seventh grade students at Oak-land Junior High School in Stillwater about what they can expect next year. During the question and answer session, students were able to speak over Skype, or video chat, about all of their fears and questions about moving to a new school.
If you ask anyone what some of their best high school memories were, the majority will probably answer Prom or another type of formal dance. Prom is a tradition that everyone should be able to enjoy, and that doesn't exclude those with disabilities. Woodbury High School will be hosting it's first ever "semi-formal," for students with Developmental Cognitive Disorder, or other types disabilities. "It brings out a different side of them because they finally get to be dressed up and to do things that they wouldn't get to do on a normal basis," senior and coordinator Alexis Swanson said.
May is almost coming to a close and that means only one thing for Afton residents -- May Fair is almost here. Every year, hundreds of people come out for the annual event that celebrates everything great about spring and summer. The 17th Annual Afton May Fair will be May 30 and 31 in Afton's Town Square. A variety of events and activities will be taking place. You can stop by the May Fair to peruse the many art vendors on display, or you can enter your family's pie recipe into the pie contest and listen to live music.
Kyle Goetz was just one year-old when his father Kirk was diagnosed in 2000 with plasmacytomas, a type of multiple myeloma cancer. "I kinda got scared the first time my dad had cancer because I didn't know if it was the bad kind of cancer or the one that the doctor's have everything in control and stuff," the now-10-year-old said. "But then mom and dad kept telling me everything is going to be OK, and it was." That wasn't the last sign of cancer for Kirk, though -- he was diagnosed two additional times, once in 2005 and again in 2008.
Stealth towers, monopines, monopoles, telecommunication towers -- call them what you will in Afton, just don't call them gone. At the May 19 meeting of the Afton City Council, the council approved amendments to the telecommunication tower ordinance designating where and what kind of towers can be erected in Afton since the tower moratorium is set to expire in June. "I understand that the goal is that we would like to have as few towers as possible in the city limits of Afton," city planner Chuck Marohn said.
What started out as a simple application for several variances to construct a non-conforming accessory structure, turned into a lengthy discussion about residents of Afton acting illegally. At the May 19 meeting of the Afton City Council, the council reviewed an application from Mike and Trudy Berggren requesting several variances so that they may tear down three dilapidated accessory structures and construct one new 940 square-foot structure. The structure is proposed to be a story and a half in height.
Afton's settlement agreement with FOC, LLC and Atomic Properties will have to wait until the June meeting before it is official. A lawsuit was brought upon the city in 2007 after the plaintiffs had purchased 69 acres of land that had been rezoned as industrial in the city's comprehensive plan, but then the city adopted ordinance amendments establishing regulations on the property.
Perhaps District 833 and the frustrated residents of the Wedgewood Point neighborhood have finally reached a compromise over the boundary changes scheduled for next year. In February Woodbury residents Kendra and Tim Goertzen filed a lawsuit with the Minnesota Court of Appeals over their neighborhood being divided and the fact that their appeal to the district for boundary amendments was denied. The Goertzens previously attended Middleton Elementary, which is a little over a mile away from their home, but the boundary decision moved them to Bailey Elementary, roughly three miles away.
Clowns -- you either love them or you hate them, but for Middleton Elementary students, they got to be them. On May 17, Middleton fourth grade students donned big shoes, goofy wigs and colorful makeup as part of their Compas artist-in-residency program. For a feature story and numerous photos about the Middleton Elementary students learning the art of clowning, see the May 27 Woodbury Bulletin print edition.