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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As if city administrator Jim Norman didn't already have enough to do in Afton, he will now also be taking the minutes for the council meetings. At the Afton City Council's Feb. 18 workshop, the council agreed that in order to save money, they are going to terminate their agreement with Time Saver, the transcription company that currently records the minutes. Norman's new role as minute taker won't be that much of an extra burden since the council agreed to move away from transcription minutes into abridged minutes, where only the motions and actions are recorded.
Woodbury Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors brought their royal court to Royal Oaks Elementary School Feb. 17 to help mark the observance of "I Love to Read Month." Four members of the regal entourage -- Katie Fiorentino, Carolyn Mayberry, Hannah Mumm and Tonya Wegleitner -- answered questions and read stories aloud to all grade levels. "When I was in first grade, I loved to read books," Mumm said. "I always had my nose in a book."
The suit against Afton resident Jeffrey Walker and his allegedly illegal airstrip has taken off and is now flying to a jury trial in the spring. It's been almost five years since Walker installed an airstrip on his property at 1022 Indian Trail South in Afton -- a move which Afton officials say is not permitted by city ordinance. The case has been in and out of court, with Walker not attending the hearings and the charges being thrown out. At a trial on Feb. 16, the court decided to uphold Afton's case against Walker, that the airstrip was in violation of their zoning code.
Oftentimes, people can get lost in a book, but 12-year-old Luxi Li found her way with one. Li, a Woodbury resident, has just released "Revenge," a fantasy novel that was entirely conceived and created by her. "Sometimes when I get bored, I just want to write," she said.
The Middleton Elementary School gym was literally jumping Feb. 11 thanks to the annual "Jump Rope For Heart" fundraising event. More than 700 students, grades one through six, took time out from their regular classes to spend time jumping to save lives. By the end of the day, close to $5,255 was raised. Jump Rope For Heart is a national program that is sponsored by the American Heart Association that has elementary students jump rope, all the while raising funds to support lifesaving heart and stroke research.
Minnesota author Alison McGhee thinks writing is a "cool" job because her job is whatever she imagines it to be. McGhee spoke to Middleton Elementary classes on Feb. 9 about writing and reading as part of the school's observance of "I Love to Read Month. " "You are just making up your job out of thin air because it's just you and your mind," she said.
It was story time at Royal Oaks Elementary recently for both parents and students when an African American storyteller came to the school. Nothando Zulu visited Royal Oaks Feb. 9 and 11 in connection with Black History Month and "National African American Parent Involvement Day." "This is an opportunity for students to learn more about their own culture, more about someone else's culture, more about understanding that we have differences and we celebrate those differences, and that we have similarities and we celebrate those similarities," Royal Oaks principal Theresa Blume said.
Liberty Ridge Elementary principal Kari Lopez will take on the role of Woodbury Junior High principal as of July 1. With the departing of Principal Dennis from WJH at the end of the year in order to move to East Ridge High School, there was an empty hole that needed to be filled, and Lopez said she looks forward to being the one to fill it. Lopez said her move isn't without sadness though since she has enjoyed her time at Liberty Ridge. "I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of being an elementary principal, the staff and Liberty Ridge community have been exceptional," she said.
For the second week in a row, on Feb. 11, the Afton Planning Commission was forced to cancel another meeting because of an empty table. The public hearing, regarding a public hearing a therapeutic riding facility by the River Valley Riders, will be discussed on the March agenda since only two, Jim Fox and Richard Bend, of the seven member commission were in attendance. This was the second time the public hearing had to be reschedule because of lack of quorum. The hearing was rescheduled from Feb.
The Afton City Council took some time at a special meeting Feb. 5 to recognize those traveling to Iraq next month, particularly John Morris, who is an Afton resident. The council passed a resolution that Washington County commissioner Gary Kriesel, has been circulating. The resolution recognizes the National Guard group the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division.