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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The Afton City Council has ended their relationship with both SEH and Jensen, Bell, Converse and Erickson PA when the council approved plans to hire two consultants, city attorney and city engineer, at a special meeting on April 20. Hiring of the new consultants is contingent upon acceptance of the positions. Frederic W. "Fritz" Knaak of Knaak & Kantrud P.A.. will be replacing Mitch Converse as city attorney, whereas Diane Hankee of WSB & Associates will replace John Perotti as city engineer. Knaak is currently the city attorney in Newport and Hankee is the city engineer for Grant.
Valley Crossing Community School second grade students welcomed home Tech Sgt. John McCoy from Iraq when he visited the Woodbury school April 8. Beginning last October, the students sent letters and care packages to McCoy in Iraq during his deployment there with the U.S. Air Force. McCoy spoke to classes about his experiences and expressed his greatest thanks for the gifts he had received. The idea for the project was suggested by a parent of one of the students, who is a relative of McCoy.
Colombian-born Detective John Santana from St. Paul is hot on the trail of an assassin who killed two prominent leaders of St. Paul's Hispanic community -- the owner of the largest Hispanic newspaper in the Midwest and a prominent immigration lawyer, both of whom were born in Mexico. This is the setup for "White Tombs," the debut novel from Woodbury author Christopher Valen, who's real name is Jerry Peterson. "White Tombs" is the first in a series about Santana. The majority of the book takes place in St. Paul's West Side.
The city of Afton has reached a settlement agreement with FOC, LLC and Atomic Properties in the lawsuit against the city. The settlement agreement was approved at a special meeting Tuesday, April 14. The 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.
Who doesn't love a dog? With floppy ears, sad eyes and a usually friendly disposition, it's no wonder they're nicknamed "man's best friend." But people still need to be careful around them, because under that cute canine face can be a set of decidedly-sharp teeth. The Hudson Road Animal Hospital is offering a free "Dog Bite Prevention Program," which gives tips and lessons about how to act around a dog to prevent getting bitten. "Dogs are fun, they love to play, they're happy animals," Marcella Ward, practice manager at Hudson Road Animal Hospital, said.
Afton is taking steps to become greener than it already is, and becoming more innovative in the process. At the April 6 meeting of the Afton Planning Commission, commissioners heard a presentation from Peter Vujovich, a representative from the design and review committee, about the Minnesota GreenStar Program.
Once again, the River Valley Riders (RVR) are galloping towards the finish line after the Afton Planning Commission approved the application for a conditional use permit to construct an outdoor riding arena. The planning commission originally sent the application to the city council at its March meeting. But prior to the meeting, the applicants asked to be remanded back to the planning commission because of substantial changes to their application. Rather than having RVR re-apply, the council approved their request to be remanded.
Woodbury High School junior Alyssa Fleming is on the way to her own American Idol audition. During Fleming's spring break vacation to Florida, she competed in the "American Idol Experience" at Disney's Hollywood Studios Theme Park and walked away with the title of idol. Not only did Fleming walk away with the gold, she also walked away with a "dream ticket" that allows her to go to the front of the line at a future "American Idol" audition. For the detailed feature story and photos from Fleming's "American Idol Experience," see the April 15 Woodbury Bulletin.
The Cedar's Bluff Homestead development agreement is still the topic of the moment for the Afton City Council, who discussed the proposed development at an April 8 workshop. The Cedar's Bluff Homestead, Afton's first housing development, was approved in 2006. Over the last two years, the development has hit a few road blocks. These include, litigation, which is why the developer Len Pratt made a request for a two-year extension on Jan. 20, but the council said they were wary of granting this extension until further discussion.
Afton might be getting some major changes soon since the city council interviewed prospective new consultants at an April 9 council workshop. The idea to advertise for the consultant positions -- city administrator, city attorney, city engineer and city planner -- was first brought to the council by Mayor Pat Snyder at its 2009 goal setting session as a way to save money. The council directed staff to advertise for the positions at its February meeting.