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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Little girls are often told that they're princesses by their fathers, and on Feb. 19 they all had a chance to prove this true at District 833 Community Education's "Cinderella Swing" -- the daddy-daughter dance -- at Woodbury Junior High School. "It is one of the few special dress up opportunities for dads and their daughters. It is a great way to create special memories," youth programs coordinator Sue McKeown said. "And the little girls love the opportunity to dress up and be a princess." The dancing and the live band, the Dweebs, drew 1,000 daddies and daughters.
In a stroke of luck, the Afton Planning Commission received more than the needed number of applications after weeks of having too few. At the Feb. 17 meeting of the Afton City Council, four new commissioners were appointed to the planning commission by the council. "Thank you for applying and stepping forward to serve your community," Mayor Pat Snyder said. What seemed like a relatively easy decision hit a snag when councilmember Peg Nolz questioned whether to maintain the seat designated for a business member. "I see no advantage to having a business member," she said.
The book has finally closed on the paper maze that is the Environmental Assessment Worksheet for the Afton Center project. The Afton City Council approved a negative declaration, or stated it adequate, at its Feb. 17 meeting.
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.