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's "stealth" tower -- one that masquerades as a pine tree -- has finally taken root in Afton. The radio communications tower, which hasn't exactly been welcomed with open arms in Afton, is located at 15326 Afton Hills Court. A work crew endured a frigid blast of winter weather to begin installation of the main portion of the tower on Dec. 15.
[Editor's note: this is the first in a three-part series profiling the Chamber of Commerce's Outstanding Educators.] Is it Christine Dease's inability to say no to a person in need of help? Or is it her excitement in what she is teaching? Is it her respect for her students? Or maybe it's all of the above. Whatever the reason, Dease, a Woodbury High School art teacher, has been named the "Outstanding Secondary Educator of the Year" by the Woodbury Chamber of Commerce. "I have fun teaching, I love doing what I do. I never dread coming to school," she said.
Despite a hurting economy, Christian Cupboard's shelves will remain stocked this holiday season. Food shelves as a whole have been hurting this year because of the poor economy and the shelves are becoming increasingly bare, but Christian Cupboard president Dick Wolff said they have been fortunate in not feeling the hurt like other community shelves even though they have seen a 20 percent jump in usage from 100 families to 120 families per week since October. "The people of Woodbury and the area, have always always met our needs year round," he said.
You better watch out. You better not cry. Better not pout, I'm telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town. In fact, St. Nick made a pre-Christmas Eve visit to Woodbury Dec. 13 -- he was at Central Park that morning for "Breakfast with Santa." Children and parents came in their holiday best to enjoy French toast sticks and sausage in the company of the jolly one and several of his elves. One of Santa's happy helpers included 2008-2009 Miss Woodbury Tonya Wegleitner, who said she likes helping out because of the joy it brings to the children. "We get to see them all smile," she said.
The River Valley Riders are at the starting gate and ready to start running now that the non-profit organization has acquired a 38-acre lot in Afton to house ten horses and offer their services. River Valley Riders provides horse-related activities, including therapeutic riding and driving to children and adults, by addressing needs in the areas of physical, sensory, neurological and mental health. The organization has signed a purchase agreement for the 38-acre lot, which is located south of I-94 on Neil Avenue in Afton, and will be purchased through a contract for deed.
Once again, the three-inch thick Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) for the Afton Center project was presented and reviewed by the Afton City Council at a special workshop held Dec. 8. At the first meeting on Dec. 2, city engineer John Parotti, along with his assistant George Johnson, outlined the summary portion of the document. At the Dec. 8 meeting, Parotti and Johnson outlined the accompanying appendices which make up the majority of the EAW. The appendices include various maps, tables, graphs, study analysis and other supplemental information.
Two Woodbury teams involved in the Lego League -- the Bot Squad from Lake Junior High, and the Polar Plungers of Liberty Ridge Elementary -- have made it into the state championship at the University of Minnesota on Jan. 25. Lego League is a national organization through which students team up to learn about different science themes and ultimately build a robot. Each year, the students investigate different science themes. This year's theme was climate connections, discovering the links between science, people, resources and communities.
Mathematics can be a daunting subject for many students. The amount of numbers and sequences floating around students heads could give anyone a headache. Woodbury High School now offers students some extra help when it comes to mastering math skills with the seven-week long PLATO Math after school program.
At its Dec. 1 meeting, the Afton Planning Commission reviewed the moratorium on telecommunication towers. During their discussions, Commissioner Greg Pennella suggested to the Commission that the current ordinances related to this issue, should be replaced by an ordinance permitting communication towers only in the Industrial Zone, on Highline Towers, and in existing structures that would mask the towers from view. This proposed ordinance would not have any mention of "Stealth" towers, thus avoiding any and all confusion.
The opening of East Ridge High School is quickly becoming a reality, especially now that the first band parent meeting was held on Nov. 25 at Lake Junior High. During the meeting, the East Ridge principal, Aaron Harper, the assistant principal, Matt Kraft and the band director, Christopher Tank, expressed their visions for what they hope the band program will bring to East Ridge. "I want music to be fun, I want it to be energetic and I want it to have a lot of spirit," Tank said.