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WOODBURY, Minn. — State lawmakers are seeking a long-term vision for a heavily used freeway interchange in the east metro, amid safety concerns over the growing number of accidents. Earlier this year, Rep. Kelly Fenton, R-Woodbury, introduced a bill directing the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to study the interchange where Interstates 94, 494 and 694 meet in Woodbury and Oakdale. The study aims to be among the first steps to address congestion and safety for the state's second most-traveled interchange.
A former principal of East Ridge High School in Woodbury has pleaded guilty to felony theft for misusing school funds to make personal purchases. Aaron Harper, 41, abruptly resigned in 2014 when allegations surfaced that he had inappropriately spent thousands of school district dollars for unapproved goods and services. On Monday, the Cottage Grove man pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft by swindle in Washington County District Court.
Portillo’s has announced an opening date in Woodbury. The Chicago-style eatery plans to open its first Minnesota store at 10:30 a.m. July 11. The opening also marks the 50th restaurant location to open, as well the first in the state after the company set off to expand beyond the Wind City in recent years. A Portillo’s restaurant in Maple Grove is also in the works. Located off of Radio Drive near Cabela’s, the Woodbury restaurant will feature a Prohibition-era theme, including images of Al Capone and other 1920s gangsters splashed across the walls.
The Woodbury City Council approved plans to build 199 townhouses south of East Ridge High School April 26. D. R. Horton, the county's largest home construction company, plans to build 69 detached townhomes and 155 row townhomes on what used to be farm fields south of the high school. The project will be done in phases and will likely take three to five years before it's complete, said Woodbury Community Development Director Dwight Picha.
The city of Woodbury is proposing changes to where firearm and bow hunting is allowed. Later this month, the City Council plans to review updates to the city's hunting map. The changes will restrict hunting near La Lake, Brookview and an area south of Military Road that borders Cottage Grove. Driven by Woodbury's growth, the city updates its hunting map every two to three years. The last change was in 2015. Hunting areas are most concentrated in the southern and eastern edge of the city.
Plans to build a nine-screen movie theater equipped with a bar and restaurant is moving ahead in Woodbury. Michigan-based developer Ramco-Gershenson wants to build an $11.7 million movie theater at Woodbury Lakes starting this year. Located at the northwest edge of the outdoor mall, the 945-seat movie theater will include in-seat restaurant service and a bar for moviegoers. The theater will also include an outdoor patio and traditional concession stands. If all goes according to plan, the developer plans to begin construction this summer and wrap up in 2018.
David Freeman is on a mission to keep the east metro litter free. Between his full-time job as a machinist and a part-time retail job, the 26-year-old Woodbury resident dedicates his spare time to picking up trash others leave behind in parks and other public places. "I like helping people, and I want to help the world," said Freeman Friday, after spending the late afternoon picking up a St. Paul park. "I want to have a clean world where we can live happily."
The road sign says closed, but the businesses are not. As bulldozers and other heavy machinery move tons of earth to build a city sewer system in Afton, businesses in the Old Village want the public to know they're open. Earlier this month, construction crews broke ground on a large downtown project that's closed a half-mile stretch of St. Croix Trail where several businesses have begun opening for the warmer season. While business owners have noted a slight decline in foot traffic, some in the historic downtown are coping with a sense of humor.
Coffee is Viviana Gurdian's passion. A fifth-generation coffee farmer, Gurdian recently launched Willows Coffee, which sells high-end specialty coffee that's grown and harvested on her family's farm in Costa Rica. She runs her business mainly out of her Woodbury home when she's not traveling between Minnesota and Central America and working at her day job. "It's a passion," she said. "But I'm very proud to say we go from seed to coffee."
The Bielenberg Sports Center will operate under a new name following the Woodbury City Council’s approval of a sponsorship agreement with HealthEast on Wednesday. The $1.8 million naming rights deal will see the sports center become the HealthEast Sports Center and will net the city $126,000 annually for 14 years. As Woodbury’s largest private employer, HealthEast will also have the option to sign a $1.5 million extension for five years when the current contract expires.