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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Armed with two wheels and the open road, a Woodbury High School science teacher is making his way cross country on bike. Rick Light is hoping to travel across the entire country in four summers. So far he has traveled from St. Paul to Illinois, Washington to Montana and Illinois to Washington DC. "I couldn't finish it all in one summer," Light said. "I could have squeezed it in if I wanted to, but it takes so much time away from the family -- it wasn't practical." To date, Light has biked a total of 2,016 miles with about 1,000 remaining.
During the summer months, some may think that sitting out on the patio with a glass of wine may seem relaxing. But the idea is not so pleasant sounding for Afton officials. The new Swirl Wine Bar in Afton, owned by the Afton House Inn, has run into a roadblock regarding the business. At the end of last month, the city sent a letter to Dave Jarvis, who manages Swirl, and mandated that the newly poured concrete be removed because it exceeds the allowable impervious surface area. The city ordered Jarvis to remove the concrete by July 15.
Michael Frome Academy is no more -- at least in name and location. For two full school years, the self-proclaimed "green" charter school, has been housed next to Math and Science Academy at Pioneer Road and Radio Drive. But, however, within the last month the building housing the school has been vacant and that's because on July 1 the Michael Frome Academy packed up its classrooms and moved to a new facility in St. Paul Park. "We needed to find a bigger spot," director Kirsten Kinzler said.
A little more than a decade ago Woodbury did not have a hospital. But officials at HealthEast had plans to bring one to the growing east metro community. Plans called for the new hospital "to be the innovative, unique and preferred resource for health by fundamentally creating the health care experience in a way that has not been done before." Woodwinds Health Campus opened its doors to the community Aug.
It would be difficult to argue that Afton hasn't made efforts to conserve land and keep things rural and green. However, the city wants to take it one step further by implementing a conservation design ordinance. The Afton Planning Commission discussed the ordinance at its July 12 meeting. The Afton City Council directed interim city administrator Ron Moorse to draft an ordinance. The reason for the ordinance would be to encourage development, but do so in such a way that there are conservation easements in place.
Forget the family picnics. How about a community picnic complete with games? That was the environment last Thursday when the Woodbury Parks and Recreation-sponsored Adult Yard Games League came to a close. Fourteen two-person teams shared some food, some laughs and played some games. On July 15, the yard games league had its championship game. The winners received a T-shirt. The Adult Yard Games League made its debut this spring.
The Afton 2008 Comprehensive Plan has hit another roadblock. During the July 20 meeting of the Afton City Council, council members discussed a letter that they had received from city planner Chuck Marohn. In the letter, Marohn requested that he be paid for the work he has been performing before he goes any further on working on the comp plan. Additionally, Marohn requested that the city discuss with him how they want to proceed with the comp plan and how to pay him now that his contract has been terminated. The contract was terminated in May.
Many consider Belwin Conservancy a great place to observe nature and the land, but next month the Afton destination will also be a place to observe the night sky. In a partnership with the Minnesota Astronomical Society, Belwin is in the process of building an observatory, which will house a 10-inch diameter refracting telescope. The observatory will be located near the education center. "It's one thing to see a picture in a book of space, but to see a live image like that, there's something special about that," Belwin director Steve Hobbs said.
This afternoon, the Afton City Council is meeting with their city attorney, in closed session, to review and discuss a proposed settlement presented to them by GJ&M Development Inc. Neither the city's, nor GJ&M's attorneys, would comment on the proposed settlement. Gordy Jarvis, who owns the Afton House Inn, filed a lawsuit against the city in 2007. Jarvis claimed that a moratorium on downtown development, which stopped his proposed Afton Center project, was illegally executed. Jarvis also alleges his development application was wrongfully ruled incomplete and thrown out by the city.
Editors Note: This is the first in an occasional series chronicling teachers' interesting summer activities. If you are a teacher who has done something interesting this summer, contact the Woodbury Bulletin at firstname.lastname@example.org . Quick. Think. How many countries have you been to in your lifetime? Nancy and Ryan Berg have been to more than 100. Nancy, a science teacher at East Ridge High School, and her husband have made a habit out of using summer vacations to go globe trotting.