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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Millions of Americans are expected to tune in for the "American Idol" finale for this TV season on May 20. A local foundation has decided to do some good while having fun in connection with the event. For the second year, the Madison Claire Foundation will host their American Idol Finale Bash fundraiser at the Lake Elmo Inn Event Center in hopes of raising money for the construction of Madison's Place, a completely handicapped accessible playground to be built at the Bielenberg Sports Center.
The Afton City Council has ended its relationship with both SEH and Jensen, Bell, Converse and Erickson PA when the council hired two two consultants, city attorney and city engineer, at a recent special meeting. Frederic W. "Fritz" Knaak of Knaak & Kantrud P.A.. will be replacing Mitch Converse as city attorney, whereas Diane Hankee of WSB & Associates will be replacing John Perotti. Knaak is currently the city attorney in Newport and Hankee is the city engineer for Grant. Knaak and Hankee made their first public appearance at the April 21 council meeting.
Towers. This one small word comes with a lot of emotions attached to it in Afton. They can be called eyesores or monstrosities, but in the end are they necessary? It was for these towering issues and concerns that the Afton Planning Commission recommended approval of several amendments to their ordinance that addresses telecommunication towers at their May 4 meeting. Ever since the infamous "stealth tower' was erected up on Afton Hills Court by the Washington County sheriff's department, residents have continued to voice frustration with the tower and the future of towers in Afton.
Once upon a time, the Woodbury Royals hosted a ball for all the fairest princesses and princes in the land. Everyone's fairy godmother dressed them in their best, but when the clock struck 12, the night became a memory for a lifetime. It was a fairytale come true for all those students who attended Woodbury High School's Prom on May 9 at the Crowne Plaza in downtown St. Paul. For a feature story and photos about Woodbury High School's prom, see the May 13 Woodbury Bulletin print edition.
Nature is a work of art and what better way to create your own work of art than with elements found in the natural world. Crosswinds East Metro Art and Science school will be hosting its first Art in the Arbor Festival on May 9. "It's focus is on springtime, the arts, and the environment," Lia Reich, the family involvement coordinator at Crosswinds, said. "The whole event is going to be outside, given the weather cooperates." In cooperation with the city of Woodbury, the Art in the Arbor event will host a variety of creative activities for visitors.
Reading is the cornerstone of education, without knowing how to read, students may struggle in other areas as well. This is why helping students achieve their reading goals is something that the schools are working hard at continuing. District 56 State Sen. Kathy Saltzman (DFL- Woodbury) visited Woodbury Elementary on April 30 to speak about why various reading programs are so important. "Reading is a science, it's not just a natural thing," she said.
With spring in full bloom, communities lining the Lower St. Croix River -- Afton in particular -- are awaiting an expected surge in tourism that is approaching. These same communities, however, are also anticipating some problems looming on the horizon for the scenic waterway. The Lower St. Croix River has been placed on the "American Rivers' 2009 Most Endangered" list, a designation due to recent developments in the river communities.
In these trying times everybody is trying to pinch their pennies, and one of the ways to save money that is repeatedly overlooked is consignment shopping. In the past, consignment shopping for "used" clothing has developed a sort of stereotype of being "low class" or "troubled." But Woodbury resident Kelly Stransky is working hard to dispel that myth with her store "Upscale Consignment." Upscale Consignment is located at 2170 Eagle Creek Lane in Woodbury. "There is a difference between a thrift store and a consignment store," she said.
The Afton City Council approved a change to the makeup of the planning commission at its April 21 meeting when they approved an amendment to the ordinance to change the requirement for a member of the business community to simply an "at-large" representative. Council member Peg Nolz first made this proposal at the council's Feb. 17 meeting when they were appointing the new members to the planning commission.
It's that time of year again, when District 833 families get the chance to taste a bit of everything South Washington County has to offer. The South Washington County Schools Education Foundation's Taste of South Washington County Extravaganza will come to Woodbury High School on May 5. "We really want to not only raise funds for the Education Foundation, but also be an opportunity to build a sense of community," foundation executive director Patti Bitney Starke said. The Taste of South Washington County Extravaganza was started in 1998 when the education foundation was born.