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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After a whirlwind week in the nation's capitol, three Woodbury High School students who attended the inauguration of the 44th president Barack Obama are back in Minnesota with memories for a lifetime. WHS sophomore Kiera Eaton, freshman Ben Gotz and junior Heather Mohr made the trip to the historic ceremony. "There was a lot of big stuff that we did," Eaton said.
The Young Rembrandts will be coming to Central Park on Feb. 8 at 2 p.m. for a very special event, the Armed Forces Drawing Spectacular, where children ages four to 12 will come together to create gifts for soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. "We thought it would be a great thing to do to get the community involved,," regional program director for the Young Rembrandts, Patty Murphy, said.
Woodbury High School did its part to help the community at the annual Key Club blood drive on Jan. 29. This year more than 120 students signed up to take part in the blood drive, Key Club vice president Michelle Lee said. "Students like to help for the fact that they can help save a life," she said.
The Afton Planning Commission was forced to cancel its Feb. 2 meeting because it failed to reach a quorum. Three members of the nine-member commission attended the meeting -- chairman Jim Fox, Barbara Ronningen and Richard Bend. The commission was forced to reschedule a public hearing regarding a conditional use application for the River Valley Riders, a therapeutic riding facility, for Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. -- to the frustration of several residents who came out for the hearing.
After many weeks of discussion and bouncing back and forth between the city council and the planning commission, on Jan. 20 the Afton City Council approved an ordinance amendment allowing up to 35 percent impervious surface area in the I1-C zoning district in the Industrial District, as long as it is mitigated to meet city requirements. The ordinance was presented to the planning commission at its January meeting after the council had received findings from a WSB & Associates' hydrologic study.
"Change." It was the buzzword used by Barack Obama is his campaign during the presidential election. Change is also a concept the discussion group titled "Faith Meets Feminism" hopes to impart in the coming weeks in Lake Elmo. "I feel like the place where we are now is encouraging a much-needed shift in our culture," theologian Kjersti Moline of Lake Elmo said. Moline and fellow theologian Carolyn Germaine are hoping to assist women who want to embark on a journey of change with their eight-meeting discussion group. "I see the whole group as a coming home to one's self," Moline said.
The Polar Plungers, a group of five third-graders from Liberty Ridge and Royal Oaks elementary schools, have rolled past the competition with their robot "Mr. Roboto" at the FIRST Lego League State Championship on Jan. 24 and Jan 25 when they received the State Division 1 Judges' Award. The competition was held at the Continuing Education and Conference Center at the University of Minnesota. The Polar Plungers weren't the only Woodbury kids to make it to the state championship. They were joined by five other teams, from Liberty Ridge, Lake Junior High and the Math and Science Academy.
Cedar's Bluff Homestead, which has been an ongoing saga involving Afton and the developer Len Platt Homes, was approved for a 60-day extension so that issues that have arisen because of delays caused by litigation can be reviewed. The Cedar's Bluff Homestead development, Afton's first housing development which was approved in 2006, would be a 36-unit development which would encourage sustainability through a natural drainage system and preservation of green area. "We believed then, and still do today, that Cedar's Bluff Homestead fits well with the city's desire to encourage, protect and pre
At the Jan. 20 meeting of the Afton City Council, the council and the residents in attendance heard a presentation from Tim Power, the Afton representative to the Lower St. Croix Watershed Management Organization (LSCWMO,) about the future of LSCWMO. Discussions about the possibility of merging LSCWMO, which is a joint powers agreement between Afton, Denmark Township, Cottage Grove and Hastings, into either the Valley Branch Watershed District (VBWD) or the South Washington Watershed District(SWWD) have been ongoing since 1999. Afton is currently part of LSCWMO, VBWD and the Middle St.
Could a Bailey Elementary student be the next Columbus or Magellan? Well, time will only tell, but sixth grade student Chris Murphy, from Valerie Lehman's class, took home the title at the Bailey Elementary Geography Bee on Jan. 12. "It is a great opportunity to build on student interest of geography and what they are learning in the classrooms," Nicci Pribyl, fifth grade teacher and Geography Bee organizer, said of the event.