William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009.
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WOODBURY — On his way out of East Ridge High School, senior Collin Brown patted his friend on the back. "Ready to show them what democracy looks like?" he asked. Brown was one of about 70 students staging a walkout at East Ridge on April 20 — the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre. They joined more than 2,500 schools across the country who registered their protests on the official National School Walkout website.
Carter Bannwarth got invited back to the party. The Woodbury teen returns to Carnegie Hall April 30, when the New York Pops celebrates its 35th birthday gala. Bannwarth, 15, will perform as part of the Camp Broadway Kids Ensemble, an all-star cast of 60 musical theater students from across the country. They were chosen from over 500 online applicants to the three-day performing arts day camp. Candidates were required to submit online videos that showcased their singing and dancing chops.
WOODBURY — Chances are, everyone in the audience at "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" will have the same thought: Thank the Lord it's not me up there. It's easy to see why the musical comedy, with music and lyrics by William Finn and book by Rachel Sheinkin, has remained a favorite since it opened on Broadway in 2005. Who couldn't relate to the agony of six middle-school misfits trapped together onstage, each in various degrees of desperate dorkiness, trying to overcome stage fright they compete for that spelling trophy?
WOODBURY — Two student jazz combos are set to blow up a storm Friday at East Ridge High School. The annual Jazz at the Loft concert features the Jazz I and Jazz II ensembles. The setlist includes music by Count Basie, Billy Strayhorn, Miles Davis and Stevie Wonder. There will be a special guest appearance by a band led by trombonist and composer Dean Sorenson, whose day job is director of Jazz Studies at the University of Minnesota. All three will take the stage for the finale, a rendition of "Hurricane Season" by Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews.
WOODBURY — Few who knew Bill Hargis should have been surprised that his funeral service will a rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." The longest-serving mayor of Woodbury, who died April 10 at 68, had a true believer's gusto for the National Pastime. He spent 28 years as a volunteer assistant coach for his beloved Bethel University Royals baseball team, where he did everything from scouting to raking the infield. Hargis Park, a baseball field at the University, is named in honor of he and his late wife, Joan.
COTTAGE GROVE — The stinking snow and cold has postponed the big reveal for the renovated Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park.
COTTAGE GROVE — After nearly eight years of litigation, 3M Corp. has forked over money to fix municipal and private wells polluted by the company's chemicals in Cottage Grove, Newport, Woodbury and other east metro communities. Now, those communities are lining up for their share of an $850 million settlement paid by the company to settle a lawsuit filed by the state in 2010. The suit accused 3M of contaminating the drinking water supply with perfluorochemicals, or PFCs, that leached from company disposal sites.
WASHINGTON COUNTY — Washington County Attorney Peter J. Oprut will run for another four-year term in November. "I feel like made some pretty good strides toward public safety but I have some more opportunities," he said April 9. "I really want to pursue some more programs and some more ideas. If the public will give me another opportunity to keep performing, I'd like to have it."
WOODBURY — South Washington County Schools is fortunate to have a districtwide orchestra program, Breanna Casper said. And not just because it gives her gainful employment as orchestra director at Oltman and Woodbury middle schools. Casper, who plays the violin, had no school orchestra program when she was growing up. "I did some community orchestras when I was in high school," she said.
STILLWATER — Washington County is seeking the public's help for an upcoming exhibit at the Historic Courthouse in Stillwater.