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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SCHOOL DISTRICT 833 — Arthur Williams is the new principal at Middleton Elementary School in Woodbury. His hiring was approved by the South Washington County School Board at their Aug. 9 meeting. Williams spent the last five years as principal at Jefferson Elementary STEM School in the Winona Area School District.
Woodbury's most successful Night to Unite is now on the books. Teams of city police, firefighters and paramedics visited a record 65 neighborhood block parties and picnics during the statewide crime prevention celebration, formerly known as National Night Out. Public Safety spokeswoman Michelle Okada said the gatherings exceeded last year's record of 62. That number could be even higher, since there was a deadline for requests. "It's such a great opportunity to connect with people," she said. "We had parties all across the map."
WOODBURY — Crime pays. Particularly when your names are Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly. In "Chicago," the two deliriously conniving murderesses scheme, vamp and dance their way from death row to fame and celebrity. The musical is set in 1926, when the windy city was awash in bootleg booze, political graft and the spilled blood of mob hits. Created by John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, it killed 'em when it premiered on Broadway in 1975. A 2002 film version won six Academy Awards.
School construction and renovation projects are proceeding mostly on track, District superintendent Keith Jacobus reported at the July 26 meeting of the South Washington County School Board. These projects include: New Oltman Middle School Administrative will begin moving into the 192,000-square-foot building, which was built on agricultural land on the south side of 65th Street, east of Geneva Avenue and west of Wildflower Drive, near where areas of Woodbury, Newport, St. Paul Park and Cottage Grove meet.
Their annual picnic featured hot dogs, burgers, pony rides, a bouncy house and a police vehicle fair, courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff's Department. But the main attraction was the venue — the nearly complete masjid (mosque) that will serve as the home of the Islamic Society of Woodbury-East Metro. It's the result of five years of planning and fundraising by the society, who have outgrown their worship space on Commerce Drive in Woodbury.
COTTAGE GROVE — Three people were injured, one seriously, after a wrong-way, head-on collision July 27 on Highway 61 in Cottage Grove. The driver of one of the cars was arrested after refusing a breathalyzer test. The Minnesota State Patrol reported that Maria Melendez of St. Paul was driving northbound on Highway 61 from 80th Street shortly after 7 p.m. when her 1998 Toyota Camry collided with a southbound 2012 Camry driven by Christian McCormick Ellis, also of St. Paul.
WASHINGTON COUNTY — She was a "boss lady" whose sex trafficking ring enslaved vulnerable foreign women. Now, she's looking at a long prison stretch. Sophia Wang Navas, 50, of Chino Hills, California, has entered guilty pleas to racketeering and sex trafficking, Washington County Attorney Pete Orput announced July 31. She faces up to 12.5 years in prison. The racketeering charge includes the concealment of the proceeds from the sex trafficking of Chinese females throughout the Twin Cities metro, including Oakdale, Woodbury, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Plymouth, Blaine and St. Louis Park.
WASHINGTON COUNTY — Put down that smartphone. You've binged enough on "The Handmaid's Tale" and "Game of Thrones." Binge on fresh country air instead. The Washington County Fair opens Wednesday and runs through Sunday, Aug. 5. Enjoy food, carnival rides, truck pulls, live music, arts and crafts and 4-H live animal exhibits. Live shows include country singer Tim Sigler 8 p.m. Friday and the Red Rock Swing Band 3 p.m. Sunday.
COTTAGE GROVE — It's been a short summer for Nick Falde. July 5 was his first day of work as the new principal of South Washington County Alternative High School. "I like being part of the alternative learning type environment because every kid has a story," Falde said. "And I think you can get more in depth into their story and really get to know them as individuals. It helps with goal setting and it helps them get to their next step, whatever that next step may be, college or the military."
OAKDALE — The Metropolitan Council is moving ahead with the public engagement phase for the Gold Line Bus Rapid Transit project. Last week, the council hosted the first of a series open houses intended to gather community comment on the nine-mile, round-trip route that will run from St. Paul to Woodbury. About 60 people attended a July 18 open house at Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Oakdale. The Gold Line will run from Union Depot through the East Side of St. Paul, Maplewood, Landfall, Oakdale and Woodbury.